Sunday, November 24, 2013

ye shall always rejoice

Liebe Familie, 
On Tuesday, we had zone training meeting. But first, we had to take a train to get there. Our bus was way late, so we got to Bahnhof and had to run to our train. But, he drove away before we could make it to the platform, so we wound up having to take a different train. This was a miracle, though. First of all, I sat down next to an older gentleman who was holding a learning German text book and flipping through it. I asked where he was from. He looked up and said, ''Germany...'' I felt so bad for embarrassing/insulting this man as I tried to explain that he was holding a learning German book, so I assumed he came from somewhere else and was trying to learn German. He had a good laugh and explained that he taught German, and they had a new textbook, so he needed to study it. Then we were able to have a good conversation. Somehow we got to talking about family history, and he said that it is really hard to do it on his own computer at home. He wanted to look at films, and he has no machine to view them. Also, he said that a couple hundred years ago, all the girls were named Maria and all the boys were named Joseph. He said that it would sure be nice if there was someone who could help him. He told him about how we have a family history center in our church with machines to view the films and there are other visitors plus the family history consultant who could help him. He got so excited and asked for the number and address. He was just so excited to have a place to go! And then, we got out of the train and were working our way out of the Bahnhof when a young lady asked us (in English) if we knew where the U-Bahns were. We said we could show her where they were as we had to walk past it anyway. We helped her with her suitcases and chatted with her. She comes from India, but she is living in Spain. She is Germany to help promote her parent's travel agency, but she does something completely different in Spain. She just got more cultural with each sentence she spoke. But she was so sweet! Anyway, we got her to the U-Bahn tunnel and then she asked us if we knew the Metro at all, and we looked at our watches and noticed that we were somehow way early for our meeting, so we said we could try to help her. We helped her down the stairs and helped her read the maps and figure out which Gleis was hers. Then she asked us about tickets and we noticed again just how early we were. So we helped her buy her ticket and get to the Gleis. She kept saying that we were sent from heaven to help her and that we were her angels, and so forth. By this point we had to get going, but I had a feeling to give her a card. ''All of our cards are in German, and she isn't staying here, so our number wouldn't do much good...'' I thought. But the impression came again, so I wrote our names and number on a Jesus card and said, ''If you need any more help, here is our number. You can always call, and we would love to help more!'' Then she said, ''Oh! I should give you my card, too! You just never know.'' So that was cool. :] 
Zone Training Meeting was awesome. As usual. I seriously cannot think of a not-awesome zone training meeting. Anyway, we had a really great discussion on hope. We talked about how hope is the motivation to take the steps of faith. President Uchtdorf said, ''Hope... is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear.'' We also talked about how it doesn't matter how many times we fall down, but rather, how many times we get up. We also talked about trusting in the Lord. I think a lot of times we have a pinboard of tasks we want to accomplish and who we want to be, but the Lord has a bigger plan. He can see the end from the beginning. Back to my Nephi analogy from awhile ago, we may have a great idea of walking to America, but the Lord knows that a boat is a way better way to go. 
Then yesterday in sacrament meeting, a guy told about how he had always wanted to go into retirement at 35 so he could spend more time with his family, doing temple/family history work, etc. A righteous desire! But yesterday he turned 36, and he just talked about how even though we have really good ideas sometimes, the Lord has another plan for us. We know what we want to do, who we want to be, what we want to say, and where we want to go, but the Lord can see the bigger picture. He can see that we can be so much more than we think we can become, and He, therefore, sometimes does not give us what we want. But He always give us what we need. I spent my whole personal study on this scripture yesterday after church:

 ''Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understandingIn all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.'' ~Proverbs 3:5,6 

 I love what Preach My Gospel says: ''Humility is willingness to submit to the will of the Lord and to give the Lord the honor for what is accomplished. It includes gratitude for His blessings and acknowledgment of your constant need for His divine help. Humility is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of spiritual strength. When you humbly trust Him and acknowledge His power and mercy, you can have the assurance that His commandments are for your good. You are confident that you can do whatever the Lord requires of you if you rely on Him. You are also willing to trust His chosen servants and follow their counsel. Humility will help you as you strive to be obedient, to work hard, and serve selflessly.'' 
I definitely have all sorts of goals and ideas, and then sometimes they don't happen. And I get frustrated because I don't understand why this righteous desire couldn't be fulfilled. But the Lord has a way better idea. He knows what I need to help me reach my full potential.  
In this last General Conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught, ''Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.''
Anyway, to sum it all up, the Lord knows what's up. So trust Him. And remember that you can never fall farther than your knees. 
Sister Stephanie Reid 

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Strength of the Members

Liebe Familie,
I do not know why, but this keyboard is an American as opposed to German one. So if I mess up the y and z, no judging. Also, I cannot find the apostraphe and quotation marks, and I honestly do not remember where they to be found are. Anyway, I am really trying harder than usual to write this email.
We had an incredible zone conference this week! The next one is not until February, so I had to give my testimony... It made me so sad! I love zone conferences! They are seriously one of my favorite things! We learn so much and leave with such an excitement and motivation and knowledge for doing this work. We talked a lot about members in this one, and it was awesome. Members are where it is at! We definitely saw that this week.
On Wednesday, we were at the home of a less-active member with Monique again. It was just awesome as usual. Monique invited the other mother to bring her daughter to JumpIn the next day with her and her little boy - from the conversation, I am gathering it is a children playplace. Anyway, they are just becoming the best of friends. Monique drove us to our next spot afterwards, and she told us that she had never even met the other mom before she came on joint teaches with us, but that she really loves her and is so grateful for this friendship that she has established. It was also great because the other mom has really started progressing so much more since we started bringing Monique. She volunteered to say the closing prayer, and in it she said, Thank you for sending the sisters to me, and that they are helping me come closer to you. 
The next evening, we were at the home of an older-ish couple in our ward. A former investigator of the elders (who had dropped them based on anti-Mormon material, but was well-established with this family) just showed up and cooked dinner for us all! It was so cool for us to see that they had remained friends, and hopefully he will still come back as he sees that our love is not conditional. But wait! It gets better! So Bari, the Persian guy that Sister Brinck and I found who is also an investigator of the elders, contacted the elders on Sunday to see about meeting next. They told him they were very busy and could not meet until Friday. He got very upset at the idea of having to wait until Friday. So Elder Morrill called this family and asked if we could bring this investigator. They, of course, agreed, and it was a lovely party. One thing our stake president encouraged us to do at zone conference was to leave the members alone with the investigators. We kind of did that during dinner (with a group of 10 people, it is very easy to get multiple conversations started), and it was so wonderful! The member couple really befriended Bari, and they were even more thrilled to greet him on Sunday at church. 
Then Friday night, we visited the Dacksons with Judith. We asked if Frau Dackson had been reading in her Book of Mormon, and she confessed that she had had a hard time finding the time. So Judith (just like Monique had actually also done in her lesson) said that she was a mother, too, and suggested ideas for time. Frau Dackson recommitted herself to reading. She was the one who worked three Sundays a month from 9-12, ps. So we asked if this was a Sunday she had off. She told us that she actually does not work at that bakery anymore. God has a sense of humor, folks. You see, her job was to clean the floors. But this bakery randomly had no mops. She would come home so exhausted from cleaning bakery floors on her hands an knees for three hours. She also said she realized that she should not be in that much pain on a Sunday - Sunday is for worshipping God. So, she quit. Judith made all sorts of wonderful arrangements for Frau Dackson and her children to have an enjoyable experience in church. She could not come because she wound up having such a bad headache that she could not walk! She was so apologetic when she called usSunday morning - she said she wanted to come so badly, but she could barely speak! She is so cool, and she was so excited about church next week!
Then, on Sunday, Maria C. came to church!! We were beyond excited! She was a little late - she came during the sacrament. But she really liked what she saw. Again, the members were awesome. The young mother who was sitting kind of by us - they were on our row, but a few seats away - scooted right over next to her and quietly talked to her answering her questions and simply making her feel welcome and comfortable. Maria really liked it and said that she should bring her boys next week - they would definitely fit in! We stood to sing the intermediate hymn, Come, Come, Ye Saints. Maria started crying. She later told me why. She said that not only was the music powerful, but she could see that even when we sing, one can see that the family is of upmost importance to the church. The husband will hold the hand of the wife, or put his arm around her. The children all come close to help each other share the books. I had never noticed that before, but it moved Maria to tears. 
After sacrament meeting, I thanked the member for being a great fellowshipper. She excitedly told me how it was not a problem at all. Then she also offered to come on joint teaches with us to her! Seriously, these members are awesome!
Well, that should sum up this week. I love you all and hope that you never forget how much you are loved. (Romans 8:35,37)
Sister Stephanie Reid

Friday, November 8, 2013

Unselfish Love, the Spirit of Missionary Work

Liebe Familie,
We continue to see miracles. This is good, because miracles are an essential part in the work of the Lord. And as President Miles teaches, the ONLY way in which the Lord works. 
So, the two biggest miracles this week were of Cris and then Frank and Stevie. 
Cris. So Cris is simply a really good friend of some members in our ward, and has been for about 30 years. She is so cool, and on Saturday, we came to visit her. We played Rummikub with her (I won:]), and then she asked, ''Did you bring something beautiful to share with me?'' We opened our scriptures and started trying to share a thought about Nephi, and then she interrupted us to tell us about our deciduous tree. She said she had been thinking about this analogy all week, and just how true it is. She absolutely loved it, and asked to know where the verses were that we shared with her. She marked almost all of Alma 32. She then proceeded to tell us about how she used to think, and how that is all changing. It was so cool that she is noticing this change in her. We are meeting with her again next week, and we are just so excited for all of the progress that she is making!
The other one started because we were heading to dinner with a part-member family. We were on the train, and I sat down in front of a man from Nigeria. We started talking, and he was so cool! He asked us if we had a church anywhere, as he wanted to visit it. We gave him the address, exchanged phone numbers, and parted ways. He called us a few days later (Saturday) to confirm where the church was, and we told him to meet us at Bahnhof at 8:30, and we would show him where the church was. He was so excited, and bid us farewell. The next morning, we got to Bahnhof, and he was simply not there. But the elders had one of their investigators with them, so that was nice:] Anyway, about halfway through Sacrament Meeting, I looked out the window, and I saw him, and who we assumed was his friend, along with a member couple walking through the parking lot! It turned out that this member couple (a young married couple who lives across the street from us) was at the busstop on time, but the bus never came! (We were five minutes early, and had to sprint to catch it.) This caused them to miss the train, and have to take a later bus altogether (we take a bus, a train, then another bus). Apparently Frank and Stevie missed their trains this morning, but they kept coming anyway. Sunday mornings, there are not a lot of people on public transportation. So, these four were the only people in the final bus. The bus driver asked if they knew each other, and they all denied it. Then they asked each other where they were going. Frank said, ''To a church in the Riedstraße... number 20?'' ''We are, too!!!'' exclaimed the members excitedly! It was such a miracle that the Hebbens missed their bus, otherwise there was no way Frank and Stevie could have figured out how to get to church. Then, we had our investigator class in Sunday School. They were the only two (the elders' investigator is 134, so he went to a different class), so we just taught the first lesson. They loved the whole thing and were actively participating. At the end of the lesson, we committed them to praying about the Book of Mormon. Stevie paused for a second then said, ''The way I see it, scripture is the word of God. I can see that this book is the word of God. All that we have read invites man to come closer to Christ. How can that not be the word of God? If it wasn't the word of God, it would be talking about other things. But it talks of Christ. I know this book is true.'' Miracles all around!!
Sorry this is a little shorter, but know that miracles still happen everyday. We write a miracle everyday in our planners, and it is incredible to see even the little things that the Lord does for us. I know He is there, and that He hears and answers our prayers. All we must do is ask, and have faith that He will answer. Because He will. 
Sister Stephanie Reid 

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Deciduous Tree in Our Living Room

Liebe Familie,
We had Austausch this week. This was the first time since I came to Ludwigsburg that I stayed. Sister Drury came here, and we had a blast working together again! 
But first... on Tuesday, we had a really great District Meeting. We talked about miracles and how they happen everyday. I found a lot of cool scriptures on what we need to do to have miracles happen during my personal study. I forgot the list at home, so you will have to wait until next week! Anyway, we just talked about how miracles don't just happen in perfect little American wards in the Liahona, nor do miracles in missionary work only happen in Brazil. They happen in Germany, too. The Lord is hastening His work. We are familiar with the promise: ''The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”  We are living in a fulfillment of a prophecy! We talked about how everyone deserves to know that miracles happen everyday. And why shouldn't they? Something that I started doing a couple transfers ago was recording one miracle everyday in my planner. Looking back on the day, week, transfer has been so cool, especially on those days of frustration. If the Lord helped us then, I think, He can certainly help us today
Sister Brinck and I have been struggling as of late finding people. We made a goal the night before that we would find 4 potential investigators that next day, and that we would not go home until we found them. We left the district meeting and headed to our first vorbei. It was successful, and we got a potential investigator! But then we realized that our next plan involved a map that was at home. We had promised that we would not go home until we found 3 more potential investigators! We needed a miracle. And we got one! People, we found our four potentials! And we were able to come home! I called the district leader that night around 9:45 to tell him of our miracle. As I started, I explained how we had made this goal and said we wouldn't come home until we acheived it. He cut me off and said, ''Oh, no. Where are you guys???'' But we got home early enough to eat dinner at home. So we were definitely home in time:]
The next day, we went to Karlsruhe to meet up with the sisters from Lahr for the Tausch. It was Sister Brinck's birthday, so that was nice:] 
Anyway, that night, we had GMK, and it was an especially hilarious/wonderful one. 
The next day, we had a wonderful Frühsport, study session, then we headed out to start being part of more miracles. We had an eating appointment with some members at 1:30, so we had a little time to do some finding before heading over there. We found four people just in that time between 11 and 1:30. The eating appointment was delicious and glorious, and we received a potential/referral while we were there. Then we headed out to Benningen to visit Obehi. We found some more people on the way (there are usually no people on the streets of this village, ps). Obehi wasn't home. So, we started to head back out of town to go to a new place. After a few minutes, Sister Drury asked if I knew the neighbor of Obehi's that I greeted. I said that I had simply been friendly. She said we should probably go back and contact him. So we did. No one in the building was interested, but at least we gave them the chance. Then we decided we should door the neighbor building. There had to be a reason why we felt we needed to come back... We did, and we found a potential! We were so excited, and then Obehi came around the corner, so we got to meet with her, too! We learned that she has been wanting to go to the temple because she knows it's something she should do. But when she tried to inspire her husband to work on goals, she had no idea what to tell him about why the temple was so important. We made plans to come back this week when he is there so that we can help them understand the importance of the temple and be sealed finally! Huge progress - now we know what the problem is! We eventually left Benningen, and as we were almost to Bahnhof, Sister Drury noticed a house that had a large ''Welcome'' sign and the word ''Family'' on it. I am not sure what made me stare at the house, but I did a double take at it as we walked past. Sister Drury saw and said, ''Hey, if we are both looking, we should probably see what's up!'' We we rang the doorbell... and then realized it was the dinner time. Klang! A fork being set down on the plate. Ooops!! A young man came to the door, and we told him about how we had a message about the family. We asked if they were at dinner, he said they were, and we asked if we could come back to share this message. He was very excited to hear about it, and we wished him a lovely evening. We got back to the Bahnhof in Ludwigsburg, and as we were walking, a young woman in front of us tripped on nothing. She turned around to see what she had tripped on, saw us, and laughed at herself. I asked her if she had tripped. She turned back, laughed a little, and said, ''Yeah, but I'm not sure what on!'' We talked to her all the way back to Bahnhof, and she took a Book of Mormon and was so excited to meet up with us again. We ended the night by doing some klingeling in our neighborhood. We got 12 potentials in one day! And last time Sister Drury and I worked together, we found 14 in one day. We decided we should probably work together full time. We could help so many children of God reach their potential! Anyway, a day of miracles. For sure.
We have a tree in our living room that was losing its leaves. At the start, I recognized it was because I was being negligent in my watering duties. After awhile, it started losing so many leaves that we thought we had a deciduous tree in our living room. We thought that was an incredibly stupid idea, but we nevertheless swept the leaves in our living room. Then onTuesday morning, I realized that I needed to pull the dead leaves out of the tree. First of all, they would start rotting, eventually killing the tree even more, and second of all, it just looked bad. I discovered something interesting as I started de-leafing. Only one side of the tree was actually dead. The other half had its full foliage. I realized that the dead side was the side turned away from the window. Although the entire tree had been receiving dirt and water, only half had been getting sun, and that half was dying. We took this analogy to our lesson with Chris on Saturday. We had the opportunity to do some gardening with her for a few hours, and afterwards she asked, ''Have you brought a spiritual upliftment for me?'' Chris is a way cool investigator who has been friends with members in our ward for years. As of late, she is showing more and more interest in investigating this for herself. Anyway, we thought it was appropriate, based on our previous activities, to use a gardening analogy. We talked about how we have faith, works, and grace. We need all three to be saved. It does no good to have faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement if we aren't willing to do something about it. She loved the analogy and started teaching us more aspects of it, using plants in her house for further examples. She talked about a tree she had that was dying. She cut it way down to a stub and had it start growing again from the start, but this time with good nutrients. We talked about how sometimes we start growing into something nice, but God has to cut us down so we can grow into what He knows we can become. Anyway, we don't have a deciduous tree in our living room. Just an object lesson.
Well, have a great week! And read this talk from Elder Ballard:
We really are all needed in order for the gospel to be sounded in every ear. Pray for missionary opportunities. Elder Neil L. Andersen has promised us that if we do, names and faces will come to our minds and hearts. (
Sister Stephanie Reid