Tuesday, August 27, 2013

the best dictionary

Liebe Familie,
This week, we finally went to the Fairy Tale Gardens at the Ludwigsburg Schloss. We went with our district, the zone leaders, and Elke (a member from our ward who served with me in Wien while she waited for her visa. So, she was actually in Graz, but somehow they were always having sleepovers with us...). We had a lot of fun, and it was a great day! 
It has officially gotten cold. I don't think it will get warm again this year. I just might pull out my tights, too. Sister Brinck asked if it was like this last year (yes, I am officially old enough to tell you what happened last year...). But I think it was honestly October before I even thought about my warm-weather clothes! This is nuts! But, hey, we aren't burning up!
We have a family with whom we have been working who just got back from their three-week vacation. They got home and discovered that their apartment had flooded! Somehow rainwater had dripped in and completely ruined the two outside walls of their aparment. We called them to welcome them back and set up a new appointment, and they told us what happened. We asked if we could help, and they said they sure needed it! So, we came, and helped them peel all the paint off all the walls in their living room down to the cement. We used putty knives, and it was actually kind of fun. Probably because it wasn't my apartment that was ruined. But it was so good to spend time with them and the kids. They really loved having us there, and we are hopefully coming back this week to help paint! I haven't gotten to paint until this transfer, and I have always wanted to. Then, we just have gotten one paint project after another! It has been a lot of fun to do so much service!
On Friday night, we had a lesson with Grace in which we just sang hymns the whole time. The elders came, and Grace just loved it. It was a really neat lesson. We sang ''I Am a Child of God,'' ''O My Father,'' ''Lead, Kindly Light,'' ''How Great Thou Art,'' and ''I Stand All Amazed.'' Then Elder Morrill sang ''Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me.'' The spirit was so strong, and Grace bore some powerful testimony of her Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
We had an appointment with Maria D. on Tuesday, but she wasn't there. We called for the next few days, but she didn't answer. We were pretty bummed because she seemed so legit! Then, on Saturday night, we were doing our weekly planning, and we got to her record. I thought, ''Let's just call her right now.'' I was shocked when she answered the phone, because that had not been what happened when I called her for the past little while! She apologized that the appointment had fallen out and explained that she had been in Waiblingen for the weekend visiting a friend. She was getting ready to head back, and her friend reminded her that she is recently divorced, and therefore home alone anyway. So, she stayed for a few more days. Then she remembered our appointment, but she didn't have our number with her to call us and let us know. She had just barely gotten back in town a little before I called. She was just getting ready to call, but then we called her first! She concluded her tale with, ''Don't you know God is great?!'' I told her I do know God is great, and I asked her when we could visit. She said she had to work on Sunday, so that wouldn't work. Then we looked at Monday, but that is always rough for us. I paused to flip through my planner some more and then she said, ''I mean, you could come tonight, or Monday afternoon...'' ''We could come tonight?'' ''Sure!'' ''Can we come in about an hour?'' (allowing travel time) ''Of course! See you then!'' So we quickly got ourselves ready and headed to her home. We caught up with her and then watched the Restoration film in Portuguese. Portuguese is such a pretty language, and Maria was quoting the scriptures along with the film. At the end, she said, ''I just have one question. Why did that man tell Joseph Smith he hadn't seen God, when clearly he had?'' We committed her to baptism that night:] She will be getting baptized on the 28 of February. She also told us that this is like a train station. There are lots of cool trains going lots of cool places, but only one train goes to your destination. And you can know that that train will go there. But sometimes people take other trains trying to get to Dresden, for example. But there is only the one train that can get there. Our job is to find that train and get on it and don't get off. We freaking loved that analogy and used it to help her further understand the need for one true church and authority. Isn't that a cool analogy, though? I And we get to paint her living room, too! Bonus:]
Then, Grace received the Holy Ghost yesterday. It was so cool, and she had to bear her testimony right after! She was not warned, but she gave an awesome testimony. I also had to translate all three hours of church for her, so that was fun:] But Sister Grace is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now. Bam.
Well, I hope you all have awesome weeks! 
Sister Stephanie Reid

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Happy Birthday Indeed

Liebe Familie,
This week was SO COOL! 
On Monday night, we brought our GML to Grace's for an appointment. We left, and he told us he wasn't sure if she really understood all of the gospel principles well enough to get baptized. He counseled us to pray about it and reconsider the wisdom in her being baptized the following Saturday. We went home, but it was a little bit late, so we just went to bed and decided to pray about it in the morning.
The next day, we had district meeting, and I had to make cookies for it. We have started doing a thing where we all bring something for lunch afterwards, and it was our turn for Nachtisch. Unfortunately, I had to do it during personal study time. So, although I had a General Conference talk out, I wasn't really reading it. I was just thinking. Sister Brinck was in the other room studying her scriptures. I just started thinking about the past people that had gotten baptized and how some of them took more time than others, but at the end of the day, they were all ready. I started thinking about why. As I compared them all, I thought about the baptismal interview questions. I thought about how these questions are what the First Presidency, and by extension, God, has determined a person needs to know in order to be baptized. They need to know that God is their Heavenly Father, and they need to know who Jesus Christ is and what His role was. They need to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today... I thought about how Grace KNEW all of that stuff. In fact, she sometimes taught us new things about these concepts. I also thought back to the day when Sister Brinck and I had prayed about what day Grace should be baptized, and how strongly we had felt that she would be ready on the 18th of August as long as we do everything we can, and Grace does everything she can. Grace had kept every commitment, and was very much so ready to get baptized. We had taught her multiple times each week, and had prayed the night before about what we should teach her this week in order to make sure she was ready. Determining that the spirit wouldn't lie, I reported my answer to Sister Brinck. Sister Brinck had, of course, had a different trail of thoughts (she had thought about how much 8 year olds understand, but they understand enough), but we both came to the conclusion that Grace was ready to be baptized. She was interviewed on Tuesday, and the district leader agreed. So our GML made the necessary preparations for Grace's baptism. He said that when he received our SMS that the she passed her interview, he got an overwhelming feeling of peace, and he knew that Grace would be alright. 
Tuesday, we went back to the Nespers to help another couch get moved. We came an hour early with the elders and talked for a little while first. We read in 3 Nephi 11 with them. After we read the chapter, we asked what they thought as we read the chapter. Tina told us she felt peace. And that she feels peace whenever we come. She said that she gets so excited even thinking about how we are coming because she knows the peace will come, too. We talked about the Holy Ghost. We were about to try to set a baptismal date (the chapter talks about baptism, too, so it was doubly perfect), but the man who was supposed to drive the elders to pick up the couch came ten minutes early! So they left, and we were supposed to keep Mandy entertained so she would stay out of the way as the furniture was getting moved. I pulled out my gospel art book, and we looked at all of the pictures of Jesus. I asked her what his name was (pointing to Jesus in the picture), and she would think about it every time, and then determine it was Jesus. Surprisingly enough, that entertained her for about an hour. 
The next night, we visited them again. We had planned on watching the Restoration film, but they had no DVD player. So we changed gears, and we taught the third lesson. When we got to baptism, they mentioned (again) how they know they need to baptize Mandy, but they feel like she is too young. They feel like she is so innocent and without sin. Also, does she really understand what she would be doing? Then Beate (the grandma) said that she was baptized when she was 7, and was a lot more aware. We told them that we baptize at age 8, and they got so excited. They told us that their friends had told them that she should be baptized in the Catholic church, but they didn't understand why it mattered. So we talked about authority, and the whole time they kept saying how it made so much sense. Then we gave them the soft baptismal commitment (when they know the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet, would they follow the example of Jesus Christ and allow themselves to be baptized). Tina said, ''We must!'' And Beate just nodded with wide open eyes, indicating the same thoughts. So, then I told them it was good to set a goal to show our faith that we can receive an answer; we told them that we had prayed about it, and we felt that the 21st of September would be a day on which they could be ready to be baptized. We asked them if we could set that goal, and they were even more excited! We bore testimony that they could receive an answer, and they were just so so so excited.
Then, we had Austausch on Friday, the next time with which the Nespers were met. Sister Holman asked them if they had prayed about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Tina told how she had prayed that night. She has a fear of big crowds and tight places. Because of this, she has not been to a grocery store in 15 years - her mom just always goes for her. But the next day, she was driving in the car, and she drove past a grocery store, and the spirit told her, ''Just go in.'' So she did. And she wasn't scared at all! Sister Holman asked her if perhaps that was an answer. She thought for a few seconds, then said, ''Yeah!'' It's cool how the spirit talks to each of us differently. For Tina, her prayer was answered when the spirit spoke so much peace to her soul, that she was able to overcome a fear that had been plaguing her for 15 years! 
Meanwhile, I was in Pforzheim, and we met with a less active and an investigator who are working through the stop-smoking program. They are so cool, and Martin, in particular, is fighting so hard to quit. We read a really cool talk from Elder Oaks called ''He Heals the Heavy Laden.'' It was so powerful, and they just loved it. It really was a powerful talk, and that is your homework for this week: read it.
We also set a baptismal date with a new investigator for the sisters in Pforzheim from Iraq! He was so cool, and his whole family was so hospitible. They fed us a full-on dinner on our first visit! Never had Iraqi food before, but it was quite lovely:]
Saturday, we did an Ausstellung in Pforzheim, and it was incredible! Sthepany (pronounced like my first name, but she is from Peru, so it is spelled differently) and I teamed up and gave out more than 11 Book of Mormons in those few hours! She is so cool, and I am excited to keep in contact with her:] 
Then, Sunday, Little Miss Grace was baptized! It was a wonderful, wonderful day. The ward has been so awesome at fellowshipping her, and she was just beaming all day. She had to be dunked twice because her dress didn't go under all the way the first time, but it was awesome! The other family from Nigeria in our ward came, and Obehi and Grace just bonded. They were both so excited to have someone with whom they could speak Igbo, and Gold (the three year old daughter of the member) kept calling Grace ''Oma'' (Grandma). 
Have an incredible week!
Sister Stephanie Reid

Monday, August 12, 2013

Moving Couches/Moving Mountains

Liebe Familie,
This week, was a roller coaster, but, as per usual, it ended on a high note (it quite literally ended on a high note last night before our closing prayer). 
Last Monday, we had Zone P. Day. Johann, a member of our ward, organized it. Johann is so cool. He was born into a family where both of his parents were alcoholics and into other drugs. So, he eventually got put into foster care. Over the years, he also got addicted to drugs (both legal and not). But, he also eventually found the church. The atonement is real, folks. Johann has quite from all of those things, and no one who meets him would ever suspect from what background he comes. He loves missionaries. He is always at Bahnhof on transfer days, ready and willing to help with suitcases and however else he can. He comes to every zone conference and cooks the lunch for all 30+ of us. He also organizes Zone P. Days on a regular basis. Because he doesn't have a family, the church is his family, and he would do anything for it. Anyway, we played a lot of silly games, and just had a great time. Johann was so well organized and gave us all Toffifee at the end:]
The next day, we had zone training. It was awesome (I am pretty sure I say that everytime, but they are all so good)! Afterwards, we went with the elders to the neighbor of one of their investigators. The family said they needed help moving their couch into the Keller. The investigator of the elders told them she had some friends who could help. When the elders learned that the family consisted of a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter, they asked us to come along. So, we tried to get to know the family while the elders moved the couch, part by part, into the Keller. They were nice, but not super open. Before we left, we asked if we could share a spiritual thought. I opened up to 1 Nephi 3:7, and we asked the investigator if she had any experiences with that. She bore some pretty powerful testimony. Then Elder Morrill asked Tina (the mother-person in the family) if she had any experiences. She paused then said, ''Are you Jehova's Witnesses?'' We hastily denied this accusation, and she opened right up. She even called her daughter over to pray with us at the end. We asked if we could come back, and she said, ''Of course!! Anytime!!'' We made out an appointment for Thursday, and wished them well. 
So, on Thursday, we came back, and it was AWESOME! We got to know them a little better. Mandy is five and has a hard time talking. She honestly just sounds like she is slow at developing the skills necessary and that if she practices more, she will grow out of it. Mandy was talking the whole time - she really liked us. We gave her the gospel art book to look at, and she loved looking at the pictures of Jesus. She also drew us pictures, and showed us all of her toys. Her mom and grandma said that we should come over more because Mandy never talks this much. Another miracle with Mandy was that she was feverish for like a week before Tuesday. But as soon as we all walked in the house on Tuesday, Mandy's fever left her ...and it never came back!! Needless to say, the mom and grandma have already noticed the power that we have:] Their friend, Margarete (the investigator of the elders), gave them a Book of Mormon that she wrote her testimony in! They were so excited about it, and kept showing it off to us. We started off talking about the Plan of Salvation, and they loved it. They didn't disagree with anything, and they said it was nice to know what to tell Mandy when she asks where Grandpa is. We will need to go over the resurrection again, though, because after I explained it, they said, ''Yeah, the day my great-grandmother died, my hamster had babies!'' I was laughing too hard on the inside to try to correct it, so we will have to come back to that point. We also explained the restoration and the Book of Mormon in this lesson. They just loved everything we taught them, and they asked us if we could please come back. We made another appointment and invited them to church on Sunday. They REALLY got excited about that, and asked all sorts of questions about it. They determined that Mandy would probably really like it, and we agreed. They also asked if they could bring a friend. This family is golden, people. We were going to have them come with Margarete, but then Margarete left out of town for four weeks, so they will be coming next Sunday. 
We also had Zone Conference this week. Zone Conference is seriously one of my favorite meetings. It is always so cool, and I always learn so much! 
Grace is continually progressing towards her baptism, and the ward sure is behind us helping us plan it. I really am so grateful to be serving in this ward - they are willing to do just about anything for us. President was not kidding when he said that this ward is one of the best in the mission! For example, our GML found joint teaches for every lesson we have with Grace this week. The ward also has a goal that no lesson past the first will be taught without a member there. Members really make all the difference. That was the theme of my talk in sacrament meetingyesterday. But members really have so much unrealized power! For more information on this topic, I refer you to Elder L. Tom Perry's talk from the Spring 2009 General Conference: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/04/bring-souls-unto-me?lang=eng 
I love you all and hope you have awesome weeks! 
Liebe Grüße von:
Sister Stephanie Reid

Monday, August 5, 2013

NewFamilySearch: Facebook for the Other Side of the Veil

Liebe Familie,
So, on Monday evening, we met with the Family Anene again. We planned on talking about the plan of salvation and focusing on why it is so important to go to the temple. We got to the Earth piece, and they got so excited that we just had to start talking about the celestial kingdom next. She just was so excited. She wants her whole family to be in the temple so badly. We talked about making a goal. They have a son from his first marriage who was also there. He isn't baptized yet, but he participated in the lesson, and really seemed to like it. We are now hoping that he can get baptized before they all get sealed together. Mostly, it was neat to see her excitement. They had been before to do baptisms, and she observed how even in the waiting room, her 3-year-old daughter was very peaceful and reverent. She wants that spirit to be a part of their family always, and she knows that is possible once they have made their covenants in the temple. 
Tuesday after District Meeting, we went to Grace's house with the Heilbronn elders. She was meeting with the JWs when we showed up, so we waited. After the JWs left, Grace came into the house with us (the JWs had sat down next to her on a bench in front of her home). She told us she didn't like the JWs because they refused to pray ( :D ). We then talked about the priesthood. We used Moroni 7 where it talks about how miracles happen through faith, and that miracles still happen today. The elders gave her a blessing after that. Grace has SO MUCH FAITH! After the blessing she was crying and kept saying, ''I am healed!'' She really is so cool, and wants so badly to do what her Heavenly Father wants her to do. 
On Thursday, we met with Maria again. We watched Elder Cook's talk from this last general conference about peace. It was really cool because for the first time, she wasn't just asking all of these questions about what our church believes. Rather, she was asking questions because she doesn't know what to to believe, and she knows we can help her. For the first time, I really think she is investigating the church, as opposed to having nice gospel chats. The teaching dynamic and goals changed, and that was a lot of progress with her. 
Saturday, we met with Grace again. We went through the whole plan of salvation with her. She really loved it. She loved it so much that she made dinner for us (well, the stew was already made, but she prepared rice).  We talked to her about her baptismal date - what her thoughts dazu were. She told us that she has already been baptized by immersion - in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost (as she told us this, she demonstrated being dunked three times - so you are baptized in the name of the Father, then again in the name of the Son, and then a third time for the Holy Ghost - a slight interpretation error). We explained Christ's earthly ministry, the apostasy, and authority again. We used the analogy of a mail man pulling you over for driving too fast, as opposed to the police officer. She laughed, but we think she got it. She sat back and said, ''Well, then I have so thinking to do.'' We also gave her an extra skirt we had in our apartment, as she only had one skirt for church before Saturday. She was so grateful. Also, during our appointment she received a call from her daughter-in-law who lives in Stuttgart. She told her all about us and how good she feels when we are there. She said that we are so nice and willing to help her, and that she knows that we genuinely care about her. She told us later that she told her daughter-in-law to find missionaries so she can get taught, too. I told her there are female missionaries who work in Stuttgart, and that when she wants, we could give them her daughter-in-law's number so they can visit her. She thought that was a great idea, but wanted to ask her first. Grace is recognizing the Holy Ghost and wants to share it with others! She will be fine:]
We had a picnic yesterday with a family from our ward. It was really nice to be outside. The dad speaks a little Japanese, and I showed him that I could write my name in Japanese. But he couldn't read it at all! He asked what my name was. I told him. Then I found out I have been writing the first character backwards all this time! How embarrassing, but at least the problem was corrected. 
That is this week in a nutshell! I hope you all have successful weeks!
Sister Stephanie Reid