- Reading Journal entries from the MTC
- Birthday parties with little kids and hurriedly decorated houses
- A cup of my favorite herbal tea
- Ping pong for sport night when it was raining
- General conference is this week
- W is getting baptized
- We spoke German to each other all last week
- The guy we see all the time who knows missionaries and greets us by shouting Obama
- Practicing for Musical abend (evening/ fireside)
- Sister Pratt
My Strongest Suit
I think my strongest suit is finding random addresses in small towns outside of Graz and only getting lost a few times, that or being really good at forgetting an umbrella when I need it. Yeah. I think I choose the later.
In all reality I think it would be lovely if I had some sort of super power to be a super missionary, say the right things bring the right spirit, have people flocking to me begging to be taught. Ha. Not so. But you see, Superman has it too easy. I think I shall be a Batman missionary, with all the right tools and know how. The Holy Ghost is the real superhero here. I just am a fancy sidekick lacking a bat mobile.
Ok, Hope you enjoyed that brief musing.
Good things happened this week, and God was in all the details. We gave out a lot of copies of the Book of Mormon and found a whole new family to teach. Our English class is starting to get more students and L met with us again. He is not quite ready to recommit to a date for baptism, but we are giving him a little time to figure things out. He is dependent on a catholic church for shelter and feels pressured to go to their church because they are giving him a place to live. He also needs a better job and just a more secure situation… Like a visa maybe. Life is rough for these Auslanders (foreigner) that come here seeking a better life. But I know it is a lot better than their homelands. A lot less conflict and risk of being killed.
We went out to visit a man that we found in the companionship phone, I called him because his name was interesting, M. He ended up wanting to meet with us and for us to give him a Book of Mormon. But surprise he lives out past B’s dad’s house. Which in all reality is super close because our area is large. There is no way for us to even logically get to the other side and back home in a day. At first, this frustrated me because there was a whole half of the map that we never can visit. But the thing is, if we build up the church here, then it will hopefully spread and someday those people out there will be able to hear the message of the restored gospel as well. I know it will take a long time, But my efforts within this city are just as important as trying to spread out. Strength in numbers I suppose; strength in togetherness and actually being able to get to church without leaving at 5 in the morning. I don’t know about you, but I think some investigators might have a problem with that considering it is still a big job to help them come when they live in the city.
The Elders came with us on this venture out to M to be a joint teach. Halfway there though he canceled saying he was sick. I was feeling sad because we had already come so far, so I texted back asking if we could at least leave him a book. He said that would be fine. We arrived at a small quaint train station and then started out along a road trying to find the address. It took a few wrong turns but we finally all got there. We called him and he came around the corner of the building wearing a scarf with sad eyes. He did look sick. He listened politely as we explained quickly what the book was, using the picture in the front to give an overview. But then soon left shaking all of our hands. It was interesting to have come all the way to teach him, and for our encounter to only last a minute and a half at most.
We decided to do some dooring anyway. One of the names on the klingle board (doorbell board) was T. We wanted to try that one first but we started at the top and went down. Unfortunately, no one answered at the T door. But the last man, on the first floor came right out of his door, his dog barking loudly. I quickly went up the few steps to meet him, Sister Smith right behind me. I told him quickly that we were missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we were sharing this book. Before I even finished he took the book and said “Mormon. Super”, and then went back inside leaving us standing slightly confused in front of his closed door. Ha. It was all so abrupt. But, honestly at least he tool the book.
There were so many other adventures that day knocking on doors, the Elders stuck with us until the next train came in an hour. We gave out basically all of our church material, everything with us in German.
Well that is just one example of a day this week. We also taught a lesson to a family from Africa that speaks mostly French, we went walking with a ward member who is in a wheelchair, we stopped in the park and sang for him. He smiled. It makes me glad to serve. His mother usually has to take care of him all day, everyday and she does it working so hard but I was glad to give her a little break. I am so impressed by her love for her son. He is a blessing.
Good things happening all around.
I wanted to share something from my scripture study about a man named Aminadab. He is a “less active” but when it really counts, he knew what to do; he knew that the church was true. That is the same with any testimony. These truths touch our hearts and we are never the same. I know it has changed my heart for the better.
In closing, sometimes when I want to live on the edge I eat a seed from my apple.
- Making a case for my mini Bible out of a hot chocolate box, and then making it beautiful with colored paper and flower borders.
- Cherry cream ice cream.
- Talking to Guitar man in the park.
- The free basil plant they gave out to Sister Poll and I that is now starting to sprout in our window. This is part of some campaigning that happens every 4 or 5 years. There have been posters and advertisements everywhere.
- The girl from Indiana that started talking to us on the Bahn when she saw our badges. Pretty cool girl, well read, smart, knows the Beatles, thinking of being a catholic nun, on an exchange for a few Months and has a Mormon friend on a mission. It might have just been her hair cut or the fact that she talked with us all the way back to her house and let us stay to talk with her, but I thought she was pretty cool.
6. Popcorn and baked potatoes as we watched the Jesus Christ video on our old DVD player during dinner.
- My new lens for my camera!!! Halleluiah! (Her camera lens broke and she couldn’t take any pictures. If you know Sister Gardner this was a hard thing for her)
- A long walk in the light rain to get to a members house.
- H’s birthday party.
- Having a picnic on the floor of our apartment for dinner when it was pouring basins of water from the sky outside.
Potentials, potentials… everywhere I look I can see them…
That is the funny part about being in a sizable city. Everywhere you go there are people to talk to, and your mere presence is a sizeable testimony as you press on through the day wearing that badge. So, so many people will not listen to you, certainly not partake of this glorious gospel, but you never know who will. So thus we realize everyone around me is a potential. Members are a potential, even I am a potential. Everyone has the potential to be a little stronger, have a little more faith, love a little more, and to see the world a little brighter. That is what I am sharing. I am sharing the Light of the World.
Well, This week was… Interesting. That is a good way to put it. It was really great, and with a new attitude and looking at my work here as a lot of little things and not as an experience based entirely on the numbers of anything, it was a really wonderful week.
I had two fantastic conversations that will probably stick with me my entire life.
The first was with a man in the park about my age who was strumming his guitar and soaking up the sunshine. I had talked with a red head in polka-dots and the two moms. But sitting next to a fenced tree I felt I needed to speak with the man who occupied that bench. To our surprise he kept talking to us, instead of staring at us expectantly after we asked our original question. He did not dismiss us with a coarse goodbye and after talking for 20 minutes I was able to sit down
with him and through our conversation share a Book of Mormon with this young man. Sister Poll and I both related our love of music to this fellow who favored us with a little concert there, singing softly along with the music he played. He talked to us about family, and studying and those big questions, about the “who you know” nature of the music business and the joy of sitting in a park in the sun. He said at the moment he did not really think about those big sort of questions, that he just concerned himself with the now. He said his grandmother had just died, but he was not sure he believed what his cousin said about her being in heaven. But he also was very interested in his ancestors. After talking about the importance of our own families, I asked him, why knowing where his family was from and who they were was so important to him if it we really are what he said, nothing after we die. He kind of stopped and smiled there. He kept smiling, just thinking about it. He shrugged it off saying maybe. But I got to witness this beautiful moment of someone considering for real for the first time, that maybe there is a little bit more to this life. A little more joy to add to the already heavenly experience of sitting in the sun on a bench in a park strumming a guitar. The hearts of the children are turning to their fathers. I will always remember Guitar man.
The other was a girl from Indiana, she talked with us for much longer than she thought she might want to. Sometimes, It is helpful to provide a listening ear to someone who is on their personal quest to find the truth. Sometimes I wish I could be more like her. But then I remember my faith. I remember all the time the spirit has whispered the truth to me, and how I know through my own study and prayer that this gospel is true. I am grateful for my foundation of faith, this
rock that I am continually trying to add too.
This week was one of blessings. We got a call from L and she said she did not want to meet with us anymore, Sister poll took the phone and was able to convince her in better German than I to meet one last time before she gave up. We met telling her it would just be us reading. I worried about it the whole day and then the whole morning before our appointment. We prayed to know how to help her, pondered which scripture to read with her and hoped that we would be able to follow the spirit. There was a hint of awkward tension in the air as we unlocked the door to the church to let her in, but we proceeded as normal, asking how work was going, and how her family was. We prayed. She surprised us by asking if all of us could pray. Immediately following, her questions started flowing. And we listened, and paused and thought and spoke and shared and tried to help this beautiful daughter of God to understand.
We did a lot of pausing. Feeling that spirit. I shared a special experience, and just like I usually do when I feel the spirit, I
started to tear up. L was confused, she asked Sister Poll why. I am sure she wondered why my voice cracked with emotion and little tears appeared in my eyes. Sister Poll explained that I was feeling the holy ghost. I finished my story and it was quite there for alittle while.
Sometimes the Lord blesses us with the most beautiful silences. Pauses can often show so much love. I think you can close your eyes and think. I think you can understand.
We continued on, questioning and answering and listening. At the end we promised her she could have a break, a little time to think it over and then in two weeks we would give it a try again. We asked her if we could kneel down to pray, and she said yes.
I really hope that in two weeks we get to meet with L. I want to teach her, I want her to be able to have the Holy Ghost and feel that confirmation. I can only hope and pray.
In other news, I went to a birthday party this week.
One of the older woman in our ward, H, asked if we would please come to her party, as part of our sometimes weekly visit to her.
I probably should not have suggested she blow out a candle, because it really was a big fat candle. At least she did not try to put it on the cake. It just took her a few tries to blow it out. It was the four missionaries, her friend M, and her friend M. What a fun, odd little group we where. Sitting there eating chocolate cake that the actual birthday girl could not eat. Sister Poll and I brought her a little plant. The lady in the flower shop tied a special bow when I told her it was a gift. The Elders gave her a picture of Christ. We all sang and M tried to turn it into a debate about those he knows who are not so charitable living in his apartment building. I was almost completely successful in guiding him back to our happy circle of saying nice things about H. Oh, goodness he is quite the character. I don’t think any actor could play him. No matter how hard they tried.
Lots of good member lessons this week. Little kids who make you feel good by not wanting you to leave. A shared candy bar on the way to Hart bei, Graz (a town outside of Graz), and all the lovely little things in between.
I am working hard to have a better day than the last every day. That is really what is asked of us. That is what you have to stick to. To stay positive and remember that you are doing better than you think, but you can do better than you are.
Work hard my dears.
“I´m an ordinary sister with feelings, I´d like a man to accept a baptismal date, But I´ll admit, no one has bit, so then how come I´m the Missionary of the year”. (A play on the words to the song “Little Girls” in the musical Annie)
Ha ha. Hopefully that made someone smile.
all my love,