This week, as per usual, was incredible! We saw so many miracles!
Birko is a beautiful recent convert with whom we eat lunch once a
week. She will be moving to Utah soon, and we wanted to review the
lessons with her before her embarkment. When she was baptized, she
wore one of the temple dresses of a wonderful member of our ward. She
felt like a princess in it, and the member promised Birko that when
she went through the temple, she would give it to her. Well, Birko was
baptized almost a year ago, and she will hit her year mark while in
Utah. She was concerned that since almost a year had passed, and she
would have an ocean in between them, that the promise perhaps was no
longer valid. We talked to the member about it, and she excitedly
looked for the dress, wrapped it, and gave it to us to give to Birko.
We taught her last Monday afternoon about the Plan of Salvation. We
went really in-depth with a few points, and the spirit was just so
strong as we bore testimony of God's love. At the end of the lesson,
we told her about how going through the temple is her next step in
returning to live with her Father in Heaven. So we gave her the
present, and Sister Jaynes took pictures of her face as she opened one
of the greatest gifts she has ever received. She almost cried. It was
such a cool experience, and we are so excited for her and her new
adventure. Also, I will get to go through the temple with her!!
We had our zone training this last week, too. Sister Jaynes and I
taught the part about teaching, and we had a great discussion. We also
learned more about charity and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I just love
zone training meetings so much! I also got to see Sister Smith again,
and we had a sleepover with Augsburg the night before. :]
That night, we went on splits in order to teach Eugen and the English
class. Sister Jaynes taught the English class, and I taught Eugen. I
taught it with a wonderful woman named Svetlana. She is also a
convert, and apparently she had a lot of hardships when she was
investigating the church. She is an awesome joint teach and bears
sincere testimony. Guys. There is a power in the Book of Mormon. It's
changing him. He was all the way up to 2 Nephi 9 by the time we
started the lesson. We are going to have him read it in 60 days as
opposed to 30, though. He said the schedule we had him on was taking
TWO HOURS A DAY to complete! But, he was doing it! He was, however,
exhausted. Just the same, the Book of Mormon is working a change in
him. We mostly answered his questions - he had had a few:] He asked
about why Nephi would write on brass plates and in ancient Egyptian.
He proceeded to give a history lesson about how it is well documented
that paper products were available at that time. And ancient Egyptian
would not have been the language they would have spoken. I told him
about how brass plates would last longer than paper. And the Book of
Mormon is a priceless thing that the Lord wouldn't want to get
destroyed. Then a scripture popped into my head. I told Eugen we would
read a scripture in Moses. He asked which one, and I started to
explain the Pearl of Great Price when he excitedly pulled out his iPad
and explained that he had not only downloaded Preach My Gospel but the
Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price in English and in
German. Who is this guy?? Anyway, we read in Moses 5:6 and talked a
little about it. I told him that it doesn't matter why Nephi wrote on
brass plates; it doesn't matter why it was written in ancient
Egyptian; it doesn't matter that Nephi quoted chapter after chapter of
Isaiah. What does matter is that the Lord commanded him to do that, so
he was obedient, and he did it. A few weeks ago, that would have
started a small discussion, but Eugen is becoming more and more
receptive to the Holy Ghost, and he knew that was right. He really is
so smart, though. A lot of investigators have questions about Nephi
killing Laban, but Eugen didn't! In fact, he used that as an example
to ask another question. He said, ''Nephi had to kill Laban, David had
to kill Goliath...'' Cool, huh?? I had never made that connection, but
Eugen went and made it. He is bomb. We concluded our lesson by talking
about the Holy Ghost. I had another prompting at the end to ask him
why he read the Book of Mormon. Eugen went and bore some testimony! A
few weeks ago, he told us that he wanted to read the Book of Mormon to
learn what it is that we believe, aka knowledge. But this night, he
said, without any hesitation, ''Joy!'' Eugen is so cool! He will make
a powerhouse member in the next little bit. He is changing so quickly.
We could also see evidence of the Lord hastening His work with another
investigator Thursday morning. This particular investigator has had
her husband throwing every anti-Mormon thing at her almost daily for
the past few months. She reported on Thursday that her husband has
stopped. The only thing that is keeping her from baptism now would be
that she still doesn't understand that it is for more than just
membership. But we talked a lot about the covenants, and I think she
has a much greater understanding now.
Then on Friday morning, we met with another cool woman who originally
met missionaries in 2005. She quickly loved it, but her husband was
very opposed to it. He verbally and physically abused her when she
talked to him about it. He said he never wanted to step foot in the
church again, and the children cried. Elena's love and concern for her
family influenced her to decide to stop meeting with the missionaries
for awhile. The missionaries got back in contact with her a few months
ago, and she said she has been praying for a solution. She wants to be
baptized so badly, but she doesn't want to break up her family. She is
Jewish, which is why they came to Germany. Perhaps that was why her
husband was so against it years ago? If she wasn't Jewish anymore, she
may have to leave the country and go back to the Ukraine. But since
they have been here for so long, and the youngest child was born in
Germany, it would probably be okay now. As we wait to here from the
legal department in Frankfurt, we started an English class, and she
called it an answer to her prayers. The whole family comes! We have a
spiritual thought and pray together, and the dad even teaches us some
things! He is very comfortable. He still hasn't been to the church
service, but the kids and mom have, and they LOVE it. Anyway, on
Friday, we watched President Monson's talk from the Relief Society
session of this last General Conference in Ukranian, and she loved it.
We talked to her about baptism at the end. She is still a little
nervous, but she thinks her husband will let her get baptized by the
beginning of February! We think it will happen sooner, but isn't that
wonderful?! What has taken years and years is finally starting to be a
reality for her! She is just so happy.
We also are doing a giant personal touch for our ward for Christmas.
We put baked goods and a note on two members' doorsteps. The note
explained that they had been wichtelt (there is a word for doing an
anonymous good deed in German) as someone in the ward loves them. We
then challenged them to do the same to two members of the ward within
the next 48 hours. We are excited to see the ward bond:]
''...deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a
second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation;
for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them
all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall
triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it.
''Let all the saints rejoice, therefore, and be exceedingly glad; for
Israel’s God is their God, and he will mete out a just recompense of
reward upon the heads of all their oppressors.''
Sister Stephanie Reid
Thursday, December 12, 2013
''Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;
And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.''
A lot of good things happened this week! Last Monday night, we visited a less-active girl and her brother. They are in their 20s and are so cool! We brought Sister Mason with us (the woman-person in the married couple who works at the institute), and she was just so cute. They just loved her, and she is so good at making people feel loved.
We taught our first English class here in Munich on Tuesday night. We had one of our investigators bring her whole family. The kids were so cute, and the dad was cracking jokes and just so comfortable. She is so cool and has been investigating the church for almost 10 years. She wants to be baptized so badly, but her family is very important to her, and her husband isn't too big of a fan. She said these English classes were an answer to her prayers because it will get him in the church, and start softening his heart. It was so cool to see how quickly the Lord worked on him.
We also had Austausch this week, so that was good. I left this time, but we switch with the other sisters who work in Munich, so I went far:] Anyway, it was really good! Sister Jenson is very sweet and service-ready. All of our appointments fell out, so we went all around doing personal touches for so many people. That night, a girl in the ward who turned 8 had a birthday party. We went and helped cut vegetables and keep the girls slightly under control. I wore my glasses that day, and Sister Jenson wears glasses, so Simon (the 2(?)-year-old) kept trying to figure out who else wears glasses. He was sitting at his little table, and I was sitting next to him, and he was eating his carrots and pointing to the other guests and asking, ''Does she wear glasses?'' I would tell him, that, no, she does not wear glasses. He would ask about someone else. I would again reply in the negative. After a few of these, I would tell him that only Sister Jenson and I wore glasses. He would be satisfied with that for a few chews, then he would start asking again if the others wore glasses. Birthday parties are great:] But really, this was a way neat family. And they were also so loving. I did not know them at all before that night, but I just felt so at home.
Thursday morning, we met with the mom from the Englisch class, and it was so good! She reported that she had read all the of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. And she will start over. She loves it so much. Can you believe it?! She has read all of the triple combination!
That evening, we met with our 7th-day Adventist friend. We have been trying to teach the Plan of Salvation, and the other day it just hit us that these are just words on a page to him until he gets a testimony of the Book of Mormon. So we decided to commit him to read the Book of Mormon in 30 days! That is a bit of a struggle in English with 531 pages, but in German, it takes a little longer to say things. The German Book of Mormon has 702 pages, and that equals about 22 pages per day. We both laughed a little when the idea came - besides baptism, this was the largest commitment either of us has ever given. But we also both felt so excited. We knew that was what he needed. So we showed him a few Mormon Messages about the Book of Mormon (including testimony from Elder Holland) and committed him. And do you know what? We talked to him yesterday, and he is on schedule! He has already read through 1st Nephi! He said he is a little exhausted, but he loves the challenge:]
On Tuesday in our district meeting, we talked about the miracles of Jesus Christ. We were to all think of our favorite miracle in preparation for the discussion. I thought of the story of the lad who had the five loaves of bread and two fishes. The whole crowd needed to be fed. In verse 9 of John chapter 6, it says the following: ''There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?'' I think a lot of times, we want to help so badly. We look at what we have - our strengths, abilities, experiences - at it seems so inadequate to do the job asked of us. And without the Lord, it would be completely inadequate. But he gave all that he had to the Lord. What was barely a meal for him, when given to Him, was enough to feed five thousand - with twelve baskets of leftovers! We are reminded in Alma 37:6 that it is through the ''small and simple things'' that ''great things'' are brought to pass. Later in the chapter, in verses 40 and 41, we are reminded what small things we must do to ensure that miracles are part of our daily lives. There are many small things, but the two that Alma chooses to teach are faith and diligence. President Monson teaches, ''Life by the yard is hard; by the inch it’s a cinch. Each of us can be true for just one day—and then one more, and then one more after that, until we’ve lived a lifetime guided by the Spirit, a lifetime close to the Lord, a lifetime of good deeds and righteousness.'' Just take each day a day at a time. Or by the hour when necessary. Life is hard sometimes. But it's always possible with Him. Whether His mode of helping us (Mosiah 21:15, Mosiah 24:13-15, Ether 6:7,8 to name a few), as long as we have faith in Him and diligently do our very best, the Lord will help us.
And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.''
Have a groovy week!
Sister Stephanie Reid
Saturday, December 7, 2013
I am in München! München is absolutely wonderful! Sister Jaynes and I are loving being together. She is a few transfers younger than I am, so it's also cool having two ''old'' missionaries together.
We have a lot of cool things happening here. On Thursday night (transfer day), we met with a guy named Eugen. He is a preacher in a 7th Day Adventist Church. He is way cool. And he kind of has a crush on the joint teach, haha! He is in his late 40s, I would guess. He wants to get baptized, but that would be a lot of changes for him. His entire congregation would be affected. His very livelihood may be affected. Sister Jaynes and I feel that if we strengthen his testimony of the Book of Mormon, he will recognize that his most important relationship is with his Heavenly Father. And when we put that first, everything else always falls into place.
Friday night, we met with the GML and his family for a Thanksgiving dinner. The Arnolds are Americans. They just have one four year old girl whose name is Camille. She is adorable! She was wearing her snow suit when we showed up because she liked the ''swishy'' sound it makes when she walks. She also was showing us her Lion King book. We asked her if she likes The Lion King. She said, ''No, but I like Simba.'' And I have not eaten mashed potatoes that delicious in such a long time! Brother and Sister Arnold are both converts to the church, so they told us their conversion stories. Sister Arnold was a baptist (can't remember which one...) and actually served a mission for that church. When she got back, she applied for a job at a particular company. Her boss asked why she wanted to work there. She told him that she was really impressed with what she had seen of him. She had noticed there was something special about his spirit, and she wanted to know why. He hired her, and it turns out she was a member of the church. She was his personal secretary, and she loved looking at his pictures of his family and such. In a short time, she was typing his sacrament meeting talks! After a few years, her boss was being transferred. He told her he wanted to take her with him, but he felt like she needed to stay. She told him that she actually wanted to start working in a different field. He gave her a Book of Mormon since she didn't work for him anymore and told her to visit his church. She looked it up and visited it. And loved it. She would go to her baptist church in the morning and then go visit the Mormon church right after that. By the time she got there, she was only there for Relief Society. But she still liked the way she felt. After THREE WEEKS, someone came up to her and asked if she was one of the dental students, and they learned that she was not a member. The rest, as they say, is history. She got baptized shortly thereafter, and she asked her bishop about going on a mission! He encouraged her to get married. She was frustrated because she was 27 and thought that was a silly thing to concentrate on, especially because the only single men in her ward were old enough to be her dad! So she moved to a single's ward and eventually met Brother Arnold.
Brother Arnold was a little more wild. He was raised near an army base in a town where shootings occured on a bi-weekly basis. He was the stereo-typical I think-I'm-invincible young man. He literally thought he would never die. He said he did drugs and other things that are not in line with the standards in the For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet. He said that when he walked into a room, children would literally start crying. When he was 26, he was riding his mountain bike. He said he never wore a helmet, but he wanted to get into racing, and helmets were required for that. Anyway, he did a particular jump, and the back wheel didn't make it over the hill, causing him to see asphalt on top, then sky, then asphalt, then sky... He lay on the ground. Nothing hurt! That's either really good or really bad. He tried to move. It was bad. Another guy was casually observing and saw the crash. He ran over and asked him if he was okay. Brother Arnold managed to choke out, ''Call an ambulance!'' The guy ran off and after a little bit, he heard sirens. The fire brigade was across the street, and they had been dispatched. Then, he said it was almost like a Xerox machine, but from left to right, he suddenly was able to start moving. He stood up just as the fire fighters got there. They tried to take him to the hospital, but he was walking! So he walked home. The next day, he hurt from head to toe. So he went to the doctor. They did all sorts of x-rays and determined nothing was broken. He said that was the first moment he realized that he was mortal. He knew it was time to change things. He soon learned that one of his friends who used to be a drug dealer and another friend who used to be practicing an alternative lifestyle had recently turned their lives around. He asked what the change was. They answered that they had found Jesus Christ. He determined to see if Jesus could help him, too. He ended up being baptized into the New Apostolic Church, or something, and was a lot happier. He had carpentry and mechanic skills, and he started helping people. He would pull over on the side of the road when someone was broke down. The people would ask why he wanted to help. He would answer, ''I know what it feels like to need to be rescued. And the person who has helped me the most is Jesus Christ.'' He said some people would give him weird looks and just ask him to fix the car. Others, however, would find that fascinating, and he would have the chance to bring someone closer to Christ. After some time, he had the distinct instruction from the Lord to leave where he was living, go to a particular town in Texas, and to leave on a particular date. He was shocked by the specific instructions, but packed up his truck and left town on the indicated date. He arrived and passed out flyars for carpentry, but the going rate was at least a tenth of what he was used to working for, and, not wanting to live 15 to a house, he looked for work as a mechanic. He found work with... a Mormon boss:] He liked it there a lot. One day, he saw a flyar for a stake activity. It had the name of the church on the bottom, and after a few hours, he remembered why the name sounded familiar. This was the Mormon cult! THAT was why he had been sent to Texas - to save the Mormons. To fight your enemy, you need to understand your enemy. So he watched his boss like a hawk. And he went to the church and stole (:D) a Book of Mormon. He started reading it. And he started getting a testimony. He eventually approached his boss and told him he had read the Book of Mormon and was ready to be baptized. His boss said he would have to meet with the missionaries first. Brother Arnold thought that was dumb - he already knew he wanted to be baptized. So, he made the elders do push ups every time they were late. And he was baptized two weeks later.
Guys. The atonement is real. The atonement can change anyone. As President David O. McKay taught: "One purpose of the gospel is to make bad people good and good people better." I have seen so many times on my mission the change that comes through the atonement of Jesus Christ. This doesn't just apply to the one time to come. But all of us as members need the atonement everyday. I make mistakes everyday! In Doctrine and Covenants 117:13, it says: "...
And here is an awesome Mormon Message on the topic:]
We had Zone Thanksgiving today. We had turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, stuffing, everything that would make it a true American Thanksgiving dinner. It was so great to see everyone again and be thankful for fabulous food.
So on Wednesday night, we got a call from the Sister Training Leaders to see how we were doing. We caught up on life and the universe, and then they asked us if we were scared/nervous/excited for transfer calls the next day. Transfer calls usually come on Friday mornings, so we were a little confused as to why we would be excited for the next morning. She told us that they had been bumped a day early. We hurried and called the elders in our district to have a conference call for our Bible Prophecies. Then we went to bed and nervously awaited the call. The zone leaders receive a call from the assistants around 7 informing them who in the zone is staying. Then the zone leaders call all of those people and are done by about 7:15. Then the assistants call everyone who is leaving. President Miles calls those who will be receiving leadership positions. So, the later the call, the more ''exciting'' the news. And who is on the caller id tells us a little something about what is happening. The latest call I have ever gotten was at 8:30. Anyway, we brought the phone with us on Frühsport just in case we didn't get back in time for the call. We did. I took the world's fastest shower, and the call had still not come by the time it was time for Personal Study. We were so anxiously nervous to learn what was happening to us! We had a lesson at 10, so we had to head at 9, and we still hadn't gotten a call! What if we got the call while we were in the lesson? On the way there, the elders and the STLs called us to see what was happening to us. Every time the phone rang, we thought it was THE call, but it was not! We started thinking we were the recipients of a prank, but everyone else had gotten their calls... We contemplated turning the phone off during the lesson, but this was a call we needed to take. So we told the investigator and the two members what would be happening, and they all got anxiously excited, too. Now. Whenever you teach the restoration, if you do not turn off every phone, a phone will ring during the first vision. Every time. We even watched the Restoration movie, and I was so excited as I knew this would invite the phone call. It did not. So we left the appointment after two hours (because the two members we brought were becoming friends with our investigator for the first hour! I guess that's a good problem:]), and we still did not know! The elders called us again (again a momentary excitement at the gaining of knowledge), and they told us to call the zone leaders as they had probably forgotten to call us. We called them. They had no clue what was going on. They said they would call someone to call us. We waited for ANOTHER hour! The elders and the STLs called again (every time that phone rang...), but still no one who could tell us what was happening to us! We just knew that we were not both staying... We called President Miles around 1:15 as we were waiting at Bahnhof for our next bus to our next appointment. Sister Miles answered, and it was lovely speaking with her. Then she asked what she could do for us, and we asked if transfer calls were actually today. She said they were, and she asked if we had not received a call. We told her that we had not received a call. She tried to put the phone on speaker phone, or get it connected to the car phone so President Miles could speak with us, but nothing worked! She told us they would call us back. About ten minutes later, President Miles called us. He said he had found a place to pull over, and he apologized for forgetting to call us. He said that there are too many Sister Smiths (there are three - two in our zone - but neither of us is Sister Smith, so I don't know how that messed our call up...), and that we had gotten lost in the mix. Anyway, we weren't mad, so we forgave him immediately and excitedly waited for him to just tell us already where/if we were going! He then proceeded to tell us about how the last mission president would do it so that if you didn't get a call by noon, you assumed you were staying. You can see why that had to be changed! After he had gotten all of that taken care of, he was ready to announce the news. I am headed to Munich, and Sister Brinck is staying in Ludwigsburg. The elders are actually both leaving Ludwigsburg, too. Elder Morrill is coming with me to Munich, and zwar to the same ward! Elder Piepenstock is headed to the Switzerland.
This ward in Ludwigsburg is bomb. The members call us to see when we can use them on joint teaches. We have been introducing family mission plans to a lot of members this week, and it is so cool to see how a lot of members already have plans! And the ones who didn't, or didn't have it written down, were already coming up with ideas even as we were still there! I was so worried leaving Neumarkt because I knew a lot of investigators would get lost. But not one of us is worried about this whitewash. Why? Because every progressing investigator not only knows members, but they have FRIENDSHIPS with the members! In the elders' letter to the new elders, those are their instructions. For more information on this investigator, talk to this member. For information on this investigator, talk to that member. It's so cool to see how excited and wonderful Ludwigsburg is in hastening the work of salvation. We think that perhaps that is why Elder Morrill and I are being transferred together. To bring that excitement and knowledge to Munich.
You guys have no idea how much members do in missionary work. As we talk to almost every investigator, they are related to or working with or in some way acquainted to a member of the church. The Lord really is preparing the hearts of so many people. So, as Elder Holland says, ''...unbind your tongues and watch your words work wonders in the lives of those 'who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.'"
Sister Stephanie Reid