Monday, December 1, 2014

2 Timothy 4:7.....Bis Auf Wiedersehen

(From Sister Motto's mom:  This is Sister Natalie Motto's last missionary letter!  Thank you all for your incredible support and love for her and for our family throughout this unbelievably special 18 month journey.  We are humbled by her service to the Lord and we are eternally grateful for the work she has brought to pass while serving in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Thank you dear family and friends -- we love you all! We will be picking her up on Dec 5 and traveling with her for a few weeks. We can't wait to hear about all her amazing missionary stories!) 

Liebe Familie und Freunde,

What an incredible week. 

We met with the Torkos family yesterday for the first time in MONTHS. Laszlow found an apartment, and his family recently moved from Romania. We taught them last night, and found that they've been reading in the Book of Mormon. They have many questions, but agree with what they've read so far, and are eager to learn more. They want to be sure they are on the right path back to their Father in Heaven.

The Scholz family came to church yesterday, and have been the past several weeks. It has been a neat opportunity to work with this sweet couple and help them find their testimonies in the Gospel again.

We went bowling with Mathias Goeb for his birthday, which was super fun! Sister Ahlm and I got to talk to Baigal and Juergen separately one on one as each of us took turns bowling and watching the 11 year olds score triple the points I did. We'll be visiting the Goeb's on Wednesday this week so I can say goodbye.

We had a very special Thanksgiving weekend!! We were invited to our Relief Soceity president's house, and along with the Whatley family enjoyed a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner. Sister Ahlm and I had the chance to talk to nonmembers that Schwester Duckert invited, and teach them about Joseph Smith! Saturday we had a second Thanksgiving with the Sneddon and Bowlden families, along with President Auras and his family, and nonmember friends the Sneddon's and Bowlden's invited. The Elders provided a very moving spiritual thought, and during the dinner the four of us missionaries had the unique chance to talk to many of these people about the Gospel. This week I was particularly grateful to be a missionary! 

The most marvelous event of them all this week was on Saturday, the 29th of November. Not only was it my official "18 month mark", but most exciting is that Spacs was baptized!! On Sunday the 30th he was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is looking forward to, hopefully, serving a full-time mission, and still has his special goal of entering the House of the Lord in one year.

This moment alone was worth each and every second of my mission.

Over the past 18 months I have had the opportunity to teach people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and about the unique and special message that the Church that Jesus Christ established while He walked the earth is here once again in it's fullness. It's been an opportunity to come to better understand the Gospel, and to recognize the importance of applying it into my life, to LIVE the things that I learn.

Christmas Gifts for the Missionaries at the mission office

My mission is the best gift given to me. Though there have been many times of incredible joys, the mission has also been a time of testing and proving. However, I am grateful for the experiences I have been given to test my faith, and to become more refined. The Lord has taken a rough edged, uneven stone, placed me in deep rushing water, and gave me the opportunity and gift of becoming smooth in His care.  I have continually learned how to apply the Atonement in my life in learning that the Lord has made up for all my shortcomings. As I look back, I see that He has provided for me all along. Ether 12:27 says,

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble;and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble 
themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, 
then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

He has indeed made me strong. I am a different individual than when I left on my mission 18 months ago. I am thankful that the Lord placed enough trust in an inexperienced, inadequate, young 19 year old girl, and helped make her into one of His instruments.

One of my favorite scriptures in 2 Timothy 4:7 goes as such,

 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

The greatest blessing of being a missionary, even after the name tag comes off, is in our baptismal covenant, when we promise to take upon ourselves Christ's name. We are ALWAYS and thereafter His disciple.  Jesus Is the Christ and we have a living Prophet on the earth who will never lead us astray.  I am so grateful for my knowledge and testimony of His beautiful, perfect Gospel plan.  

My dearest friends and my family, I want to thank you for your support you have given me each and every week throughout these past 18 months. Whether it was through emails, letters, or little notes of "thinking of you", I felt your love and your numerous prayers on my behalf, for I know the Lord has heard and answered them. I love you all dearly. I want you to also know how much I LOVE the people of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The Lord placed me EXACTLY where I was needed, and with those whom I needed. It had been made clear to me over and over again that as I have tried to pay back the Lord my debt by serving Him, He has only given me so much more back. Sister Bonnie L Oscarson once said that "Where much is required, much more will be given." How right she is.

Thanks, indeed.

Until we meet, Bis Auf Wiedersehen!

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Monday, November 24, 2014

Walking In The Sunlight

Liebe Familie und Freunde,

This week was SO GOOD!  Being a missionary is simply the greatest! I love each and every day. I've learned to even enjoy the hard moments, because I know the Lord provides a way for us to be refined and made something new. 

Last Monday Sister Ahlm and I had the opportunity to go to Dachau Concentration Camp for Pday. Even though I had been there a couple of times before, this was an experience to remember. The day was kind of grey and cloudy and cold, which for me brought a little more reverence to the memorial site. Walking around the camp, looking in the bunkers, and staring at the vast, empty plot where prisoners were called for roll call each day was a sobering, humbling, and peaceful experience. The events that took place at Dachau were tragic and unjustified, but I left that place with special sense of peace in my heart and mind that I knew came from my knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, recognizing in many ways that the grounds we had just walked are very hallowed and almost sacred. 

We met with Spacs a couple times this week, and were able to teach him a lot. Yes, his name is Spacs. Because of his thick African accent Sister Ahlm and I assumed that his name was Sparks. Well, he never noticed, or never bothered to correct us, but now we feel really silly for calling our investigator and soon to be new member by the wrong name for the past 2 months! (Can't blame it on a rookie mistake)  We finished teaching Spacs about the Plan of Salvation, talking about where we go after this life, judgement, resurrection, and the kingdoms of glory. Spacs posed the question, "so what happens to the people who don't hear about the Gospel in this life?"  We are going to be talking about temple work later this week, and help make a plan for the next year to prepare Spacs to go to the temple! 

On Thursday evening we went to the Sneddon's (Our lovely Bishop and his family) with Spacs and our district leader companionship for Spacs' baptismal interview. We had a delicious Swiss raclette for dinner and watched a Mormon Message. Spacs said he totally related to the man in the short video, because he also had to go on his own search for the truth. When he shared his testimony, I felt the Spirit wrap me up in a warm blanket, and I was immediately filled with gratitude for the opportunity to teach such a neat man the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Spacs' baptism is on Saturday (my 18 month mark, I also just noticed) and we are SO EXCITED!

We met with Juergen and Baigal again this week after a little while, and it went very well. We read in 2 Nephi 31 about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In this lesson, Juergen and Baigal asked so many questions that were good and relevant to what we were teaching. I was a little surprised of how involved they were!! We encouraged them to begin/continue reading in the Book of Mormon together as a family. In return they invited us to go bowling for Mathias' (their son) birthday on Friday. 

Because next Sunday will be the Primary program in our ward, I had the opportunity to give my closing testimony in Sacrament meeting yesterday. That was sort of a surreal moment for me. I saw a lot of familiar and unfamiliar faces in the congregation, but it didn't matter to me. I loved each individual who was sitting in that chapel. Afterward, I was still so full of that joy. During that Sacrament Meeting, I just couldn't help but feel peaceful, happy, and grateful. Being a missionary has brought me a fullness of joy, like it talks about in Doctrine and Covenants 18. Now I'm most definitely not a perfect person, nor a perfect missionary, and it's more incredible for me to think of that joy being magnified when I one day am perfect!! That is something beyond my comprehension. 

Having the Gospel of Jesus Christ I have noticed is like walking in sunlight everywhere I go. Especially as a missionary, I have been more aware of this "light" given to me (meaning the Gift of the Holy Ghost received after my baptism) than I ever have before in my life. I see so many sad, disheartened individuals everywhere I go, and all I want to do is give them just a little taste of this light, of the warmth that comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we act upon the principles and commandments taught in the Gospel, we receive blessings beyond our understanding or imagination.  At the very least, when we are obedient and strive to obey the commandments and keep true to our covenants, it really is like walking in sunshine, even on the cloudiest day.

I love you all!! Have a marvelous week.

Your Bavarian/Alpine missionary

Sister Natalie Motto

Gift from the McCormick's! 

Munich Hauptbahnhof decorated for Christmas!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Being Born Again

Meine lieben Freunde und Familie,

Bruce R. McConkie once said,

"Being born again is a gradual thing, except in a few isolated instances that are so miraculous they get written up in the scriptures.... we are born again by degrees, and we are born again to added light and added knowledge and added desires for righteousness as we keep the commandments."

My mission has been a born again experience. I am so grateful for each moment that I have had to allow my faith and testimony to be tested, proven, and strengthened. This quote has been one of my favorites of the past little bit, as Sister Ahlm and I have seen investigators and less actives progress and add to their own light and knowledge.

This week we were extremely busy, to a point where Sister Ahlm and I went to bed and woke up the next morning feeling like there were only seconds in-between. I feel so blessed to be so busy, and one of the greatest tests of my faith has been to see if Heavenly Father can support someone as tired and exhausted as we!! We were able to meet with Sparks a couple times this week, one of our lessons being over the phone. Sparks has had a lot of questions lately, but all very good questions that have helped his understanding of the Gospel grow. Sparks is one example I think of in this "born again" stage, where, at this point in time, he is already such a different individual than when we first met him. We also began teaching him the Plan of Salvation, which was kind of a big step for him, something a little different that he  had a more difficult time understanding. Sparks being Sparks however, said he would pray about it and really study the scriptures we gave him so he can know what we're teaching him is true. His baptismal interview is this week: we're so excited!

We had a really great Zone Training this week, where President Auras, our stake president, was in attendance. It was an amazing Zone Training, and I had the privilege of bearing my testimony as a soon-to-be "departing missionary". That was so strange but still a good, special experience.

We met with Gerhard. He's an older German man who grew up behind the wall in the former DDR. He hasn't had the easiest life, and from his experience has dedicated his life to helping the poor and starving in Africa. We taught Gerhard about the Restoration and he LOVED the metaphor to the Apostasy as being a broken mirror, and through Joseph Smith the broken mirror was restored. I love metaphors, especially when teaching. Gerhard got it, and is anxiously awaiting our next appointment. We're hoping to set a baptismal date with him this week!

I went on Austausch, 3 for 3, with Sister Smith from Munich 3 this week! She's such a darling missionary, and it's been fun to see her progression over the past 3 transfers. On Austausch we met with Klaus Nudlbichler and Niculina Muntean. The Muntean family is still set on their goal to come to church the 23rd, and Klaus has enjoyed reading in the Book of Mormon, although we are not 100% sure how much he understands. We also got to meet with Tenzin and Ngawang at a Chinese Resturant, drank some Apfelschorle (fizzy apple juice), and talked about the Word of Wisdom again.

Something new! We went to a Moonie party with the Goeb's. The Unification Church celebrated their 50th anniversary of being in Munich, and Sister Ahlm and I went after being invited by the Goeb's. It was pretty interesting, we had some delicious cake and fruit tea, and the Goeb's were really happy we went to support them. 

I feel so blessed to be working with Sister Ahlm here in Munich. She's such a great missionary who has blossomed into a confident, excited missionary. She's always been so, but even from the beginning it's been a neat opportunity for me as her trainer to see how she's grown. I love her so much and am so grateful for this time we have together!

Whenever I experience an uphill climb here on my mission, I think of that Bruce R McConkie quote. The Lord is so brilliant to allow us to have to endure some things, so that we can become stronger and more refined. Just as a rough stone becomes smooth after the river's waves rush by after a period of time, and as the bumps and jagged edges wash away, so it is with us. Being born again is to be made whole and new. How grateful I am for the Sacrament each week, so that at the start of each new week of various challenges and obstacles, I have that clean slate to begin again. It's a step by step process, a gradual thing, and I am so grateful to know I have a patient and loving Father in Heaven and merciful Savior who constantly remind, reassure, forgive, support, and love me.  I have the most humble desire to stay strong, to finish strong, to fight for the Lord and for His Gospel until He no longer needs me as His full time missionary.  I'm savoring each and every day. 

I love you all so dearly! Have the most marvelous of weeks.

Your missionary

Sister Natalie Motto

Monday, November 10, 2014

"What more is required, Lord?"

Liebe Familie und Freunde,

Everyone should have more faith in pass along cards, and to give them out more often. You know why? Because they WORK! Sister Ahlm and I got a phonecall yesterday afternoon from a man by the name of Gerhard, an older German gentleman we met at our U-bahn station on the way home one evening. We had a very simple, brief chat with him, gave him a card, and didn't think anything of it. Yesterday right before church started we got a call from a number we didn't know, and it was Gerhard, and he explained that after we met in the Ubahn station he went home, looked on, and now wants to learn everything about the Church! 

For Pday last week Sister Ahlm and I went with Jürgen and his friend from his church congregation, Ursula, down to Garmsich-Partenkirchen and the famous Oberammergau!!! It was BEAUTIFUL. The sun was brighter than it had been all week, the sky was startling blue, and we were really able to enjoy running around in these beautiful mountain villages. It was probably my favorite Pday that we've had in a while :)  I couldn't get over the brilliance of the colors of the trees, the clearness of the Bavarian mountain lakes and the crisp clean smell in the air.  It was perfectly picturesque and heavenly.  Every day, I grow more in love with Bayern, Munich and what this area has to offer.  The people are charming and warm and fully embody "Gemütlichkeit".  I feel so blessed. 

Sister Ahlm and I met up with our Tibetian threesome this week in a coffee shop to enjoy donuts (German donuts, sogar) and a discussion on the Word of Wisdom. Namdul asked us if we put milk in the black tea, if then it would be okay to drink. He and Ngawang kept asking if putting sugar, or milk, or more water, or many other random things would make the black tea "ok" to drink. After laughing at us and trying to get past the language barrier, Tenzin stepped in and translated everything nicely. We found out that Namdul has a problem with smoking, and he wants to give our Stop Smoking Program a try! He's really determined to stop, and that's all the motivation he needs.

Confession: I'm a really bad trainer...or just a little blonde.:)  Sister Ahlm and I got a ticket for riding the Sbahns without a valid monthly ticket!  (Lesson number one to Sister Ahlm...never ride "schwarz"!)  We got charged 40 Euro. Yikes!  Fortunately, the controllers told us that we could go to Hauptbahnhof, show our valid ticket, and get a slight deduction off our "strafe" price. You can imagine my relief when I found out our ticket strafe was only 7 Euro!!! I'm still a little embarrassed that we got a ticket, but all's well that ends well, and we learned from our mistake! Whew.  (I have to say how grateful I am for my awesome and very patient companion!)

I had the opportunity this week to Austausch again with Sister Smiley, but instead of being in Tübingen we were in Munich! We had a lot of fun talking about Wien, because she got to serve there for 1 transfer: it was so good to hear how everyone there is doing. We met with Sparks and were able to answer a lot of questions he has about the creation, repentance, the Atonement, and the meaning of the Sacrament. He's always so nervous to ask questions because he says he knows as he learns he'll find answers, but that being said he wants to be as ready as possible for his baptism soon. One thing I have noticed teaching Sparks is kind of like that when I taught Ainhoa back in Göppingen: teach simply and powerfully. Sparks, although 27 years old, is still like a child in the Gospel, and line upon line we as missionaries have the opportunity to help him grow and mature spiritually as he continues to learn. Teaching people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and in many cases the teachings to them are so new, is something that will forever amaze me. I love this chance to teach, because whether or not the investigator/less active/member knows it, I grow right along with them.

Me and Sister Smiley!

There was a train strike in Germany this week that lasted somewhere around 75 hours, which is supposedly the longest strike in Deutsche Bahn history (so everyone is saying). It was really dumb, but thankfully we serve in the city where the buses and Ubahns still ran. Sadly, we had to cancel many of our appointments for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday due to the strike, but we were still able to make those hours productive.  For Germans, the trains are a necessity, so you can imagine how a train strike can paralyze a country.

We met with Armando this week for the first time in a real lesson, and cute Rachel Sneddon, our bishops daughter, came with us! Armando was so kind and made us REAL Italian food, and we were able to teach him about the Restoration. He's been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon and each thing we taught him about the Restoration he said "made perfect sense". That's what the Gospel does: make sense!!

Hashim,the Göb's, Muanza, Klaus, and the Muntean's are all doing well, even though we didn't get to meet with them because of the strike. We have regular phone contact with them all, and they are all doing well.

One thing I learned about this week in my personal study, and something that we talked about at district meeting, was the principle of Accountability. The Lord expects us to be accountable for all our actions, and to report back to Him at the end of each day, although He is very well aware of all we do. The very act of kneeling in prayer and giving an account of our day's actions shows our Father in Heaven that we know He is there, that He watches over us, that He is aware of us, and that we are grateful for the time He gives us each day. It also helps us personally to recognize what we are doing with His time, if it happens to be better instead of good, or even the best instead of a better usage. My thought process in my prayers lately has been "What more is required, Lord?" What more can I do? What can I do better the next time? What can I say the next time? Help me become who THOU wouldst like me to become. And it has made such a wonderful difference.

Elders Jensen and Abbott at MLC

Seeing my sweetest friend from Lindon.....and saying goodbye until 10 weeks:)

Me and Sister Erdentsegsogt

The Tübingen and München 2 sisters at MLC

Have a marvelous week my friends and family! I pray for you, I think of you, and I hope you know I love you!

All the best,

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Monday, November 3, 2014

Driven To My Knees

My dearest Family and Friends,

Happy, happy November!! How can it already be November??

Sister Ahlm and I have stayed busy and anxiously in good causes throughout our week. We were able to say goodbye to a couple of the departing missionaries at the main train station before they left, just in passing through. It was kind of a weird moment for me recognizing the Sisters I came out with were leaving. It was a bitter-sweet moment and my heart this week has been full of gratitude that I have the opportunity to stay one more transfer.  Oh and guess what.....I'm officially the "oldest" (longest out) sister missionary in the mission!! (as far as mission time goes, that is.)

We met with Tenzin this week, and both meetings went very very well. He has the goal to be baptized in December, and we're doing everything we can as missionaries to help him reach that goal. Tashi, his wife, has no disagreements with him being baptized, and in fact, Tashi even sat in for a few mintues during one of our lessons! How much she really listened to, I'm not 100% sure, but we have a really good relationship with Tashi and have a solid foundation of trust. She even invited us to come over sometime to make Tibetian dumplings!

Bustling Busy and Beautiful Munich

Remember Hashim? Our super cool investigator from Somalia? We haven't had contact with him in the past couple months and we and the Elders were kind of bummed that he dropped off the planet and despite our best efforts we couldn't locate him. It just so happens that this week after going by on some less actives and getting just a little lost, Sister Ahlm and I hopped on the Ubahn to run into none other than Hashim! Because of his work schedule and because he got a new cell phone number, he had no way of contacting us and we had no way of contacting him! I was so grateful for even this small little miracle so that we can continue teaching Hashim.

We met with Sparks and Kai this week and had a fantastic lesson reviewing the Restoration. Sparks simply eats up the Book of Mormon, he absolutely loves reading in it. He even downloaded the LDS app onto his smartphone so he could read the scriptures and other Church materials while on the train going to school and work! He read the chapters we asked him to and beyond. In everything we ask him to do, he goes the extra mile! Kai is also a huge source of support to Sparks. Like I've said a thousand times, member-missionary work is the only way to go about this work! Sparks is going a thousand miles an hour to prepare for his baptism on the 29 of this month and smiling the entire way. Sparks is a perfect example of showing how the Gospel edifies and changes our lives for the better. 

As of late we've had the chance to make some visits to the older senior women in our ward. One of my really good friends I've made since being here in Munich is Schwester Seeber, a Swabian born and Swabian raised woman who has lived in Bayern with her husband for about 20 or so years. Bruder Seeber is nearly deaf and has many health problems, so he doesn't come to church very often. We had some "tee und kuchen" with the Seeber's one evening, and Bruder Seeber showed us all of his cool collections, which included model "old timer" cars (that's what Germans nickname vintage cars, "old timers"), beer coasters--Bruder Seeber has over 700, and old American stamps that date back from the 60's. Bruder Seeber gave Sister Ahlm and I each a model car from his collection to thank us for our visit. 

We began teaching a man by the name of Klaus this week. He was a referral from the Church. He watched a pretty interesting movie about the Mormons and in his curiosity he looked up our church on Wikipedia and found He loved so much what he saw there that he placed an order for a Book of Mormon, we got the referral the next day, and we met him two days later. Klaus grew up in a circus and is not super religious, but he says that he is on the search for hope and light in his life, hoping to turn his life around. Well, if anything can change anyone's life for the better, it would be the Gospel of Jesus Christ! We look forward to continue teaching him. (And whenever I say his name I can't help but smile. Such a great German name!!)

Herr Muanza is doing really well. We met with him with Sister Kohler as our joint teach, and we taught him about the Restoration of the Priesthood. Herr Muanza says he likes his church ward better, but he knows that everything we've taught him is the truth. We get the feeling he's scared and has some deeper concerns, and that's why he won't be baptized. We are still praying for him and hoping that he will have a change of heart. 

This week at District Meeting, I was really touched with our topic of prayer and answers to prayer. Elder Huff brought up a really good point when he mentioned that the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, this magnificent gospel we have on the Earth today and everything that pertains to it, all began with one question. It all started with one simple, heartfelt question. When we sincerely desire to know something, and we turn to the Lord, He will bless us with an answer! He loves us THAT MUCH. No matter how great or how small our question may be, He will answer in His own beautiful way and in His own perfect time. I've seen that on my mission. There have been and there are things I greatly desire! I've seen the blessings of getting on my knees and simply asking. 

I love what President Abraham Lincoln once said,
"I've been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go."

When life gets more than we can stand, don't forget that we can kneel. Some of the most powerful statements uttered are not in mighty speech, but in that of a whisper to the Almighty.

I love you all so much!! Have a wonderful week!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

"To Nourish Starving Souls"

Dearest Family and Friends,

Its getting coooollldddd.......:)  

It's been a wonderful week here in the beautiful, fairytale like land of Bavaria!! Sister Ahlm and I are attempting to adapt to the ever growing colder weather here in Munich, but we are warm in our hearts as we go about sharing the message of the Gospel.  I feel SO blessed to be able to stay in this incredible city and ward for my last transfer.  I have LOVED serving in Bavaria and it feels right to end in a place which has grown so near and dear to my heart.  I am also grateful to continue serving as STL and as a trainer with Sis Ahlm, who by the way, doesn't really need a trainer, she is incredible.  We have so much fun together and are working hard! 

FINALLY found a hedgehog~
We had a pretty successful week. We met with Sparks throughout the week, being able to teach him about the Restoration, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Priesthood. On Thursday Sister Ahlm and I took a beautiful S-bahn ride down to Tutzing, which is the most south we can go on our Munich train card, and met Sparks there. We taught him at a friend's home because it was so cold outside, and had an incredible lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Each time I teach this lesson, I recognize the power in it's simple points. Faith leads to repentance, which will help our desires grow to follow the Savior to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and as we continually strive after this pattern week after week taking the sacrament, we can better and stronger endure to the end. We talked a lot about priesthood authority during the lesson, and priesthood blessings. We also extended the invitation for Sparks to be baptized on November 29 and he said YES! We called Kai afterward, and he was so happy he got emotional. Kai thanked us for leading his friend to the Gospel, and right then I corrected him and said, "No Kai, we didn't do anything. It was YOU who brought your friend to the Gospel, and we are just here to help you teach him." Even up through Church yesterday, afterwhich Sparks got his first priesthood blessing, Kai radiated such a glow of happiness and excitement for his friend. Member missionary work is the most powerful way to go about laboring in the Lord's vineyard.

We visited the Göb's again this week with Bishop Sneddon. Although it wasn't a terrible lesson, we didn't teach what we had planned. We'll be visiting the Göb's on Thursday this week, and after much prayer decided the best way to teach them, at this point in time, is through simple, clear points. Once we have a foundation of simple but powerful teachings, then we can build up from there.

On Wednesday we went to Lenggries and contacted our referrals. Our trip down there was grey and rainy, and Sister Ahlm asked "why is it always grey and rainy when we go to Lenggries?"  Ten minutes later the sun came out and Lenggries showed us her true colors of Bavarian beauty.

On Friday Sister Ahlm and I got to spend with cute Erika Kohler, the mission presidents daughter! It was almost like having my little sister Isabelle along. I forget how fun it is to have a 14 year old with you, and Erika reminded me in even the smallest ways of what great things come from the smallest amounts of faith. When we were with Erika we met with Tenzin, and Tenzin was thoroughly impressed with her spiritual maturity. Tashi (Tenzin's wife) was also very impressed about Erika's knowledge about the Bible. Sister Ahlm and I agree that bringing Erika more often might be the key to softening Tashi's heart to listen to the message of the Gospel.

Oh so get this! Sister Ahlm and I had a unique opportunity to attend a worship service for the 7 Day Adventists. This small congregation of about 10 people asked Bishop Sneddon a while back if they could use our Church building for their worship service, and he complied. We helped these really nice and really faithful people set up the Relief Society room for their service, and in return they invited us to stay for a time. So we did! And it was really neat! The time we spent with them, praying and reading in the Bible for their "Sabbath school" was an experience in which the Spirit testified to me the goodness of these people's hearts. They are such GOOD people and even though they are of different faiths, I know the Lord loves them and their efforts to learn more of the Bible.   We hope to have the opportunity soon to teach them what we believe so that they might enjoy the fullness of the Gospel. 

We met with Herr Muanza this week after such a long time, and taught him about priesthood authority. He LOVED it, especially the scriptures we shared from the Bible and the Book of Mormon in partnership. Muanza is loving his daily Book of Mormon reading, and he said he now knows that Joseph Smith IS a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon cannot be anything but the Word of God. We asked him to be baptized and he said no......because he was already baptized. Even after our entire lesson on priesthood authority, he still didn't get it. So back to basics and hopefully in the next lesson we're hoping to maybe clarify a little bit better with our Portuguese speaking member who can help translate/clarify a couple of things:)

Today I set the goal for myself to read the Book of Mormon one more time through before coming home. With the time I have left, that means I need to read 14 pages each day. I'm reading the Book of Mormon after Elder Bendar's challenge, to read with a perspective of the Atonement. Today when I studied, I read about Nephi and his brothers going to get the brass plates from Laban. Each time I read, I am astounded by Nephi's faith and unwavering obedience. Today when I read however, something else clicked in my understanding. The reason Nephi is so strong is because he simply gets the Atonement. He GETS it. The reason Laman and Lemuel mumble and grumble around is because they don't. They see angels, they witness miracles, and they still don't get it. Nephi understands the power of repentance, and the incredible power that comes from being grateful. I am really eager and excited to see what treasures of hidden knowledge await as I continue to read the Book of Mormon again with this new perspective. How grateful I am for this book of scripture! How grateful I am for the healing power it has to nourish starving souls (quoted by President Boyd K Packer).

I love my mission. I love being a missionary. I love my Savior, and I am forever grateful for this opportunity to be His representative.

Love always, 

Your Missionary

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Simply Listen

Dearest family and friends,

Yes, it's been another wonderful week of missionary work.....full of learning opportunities, service, teaching and enjoying some pretty amazing fall weather here in southern Germany.

We started off our week visiting Sister Franz in the hospital, an older sister in our ward because it was her birthday. The Elders and we sang to her, enjoyed cake with one another, and Sister Franz claimed  that we made her entire day. Little does she know how much it made OUR day as missionaries to visit her and perform that act of service for her. It did bestimmt (certainly) a lot more good for me than for her, to see this sweet elderly sister smile and tell us of her love for us and for the Lord.  

We met with the Goeb's this week. It was very, very good. We began talking about the nature of God, and what it exactly means to us individually that we have a loving Father in Heaven. They are making progress and even though there are stumbling blocks, we are doing our best putting faith in the Lord, praying that through our teaching of His truth, that the Goebs hearts will be softened and that they will listen.  The listening part has been tricky.  It took longer than normal to teach them this week but missing 2 train times was worth it.  We wanted them to fully understand the truth and be very specific what we believe and why. 

We then recommitted them to continue to read in the Book of Mormon, and to fully, 100% listen to what we have to say and teach, and then they can decide for themselves if what we teach as representatives of Jesus Christ is true or not. The Goeb's sincerely promised to listen, as well as wholeheartedly promising us--because of their own desire, not out of commitment-- to begin reading the Book of Mormon again.

After that appointment, I was so exhausted, and I couldn't remember what I had even said. Sister Ahlm didn't either.  We were so pleasantly surprised and grateful to see that the Spirit really had guided our thoughts and words during that appointment. We are looking forward to our appointment with them on Wednesday!

This past week we also had the privilege of attending the funeral service for Simon Auras, the 11 year old son of our stake president, who died suddenly last week playing soccer. It was a beautiful memorial service, and there was so much love and peace in the room. How grateful I am for the knowledge and blessing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that we may be with our families forever.

I went on Austausch this week, and got to work with Sister Packer and Sister Smith in a dritt in the Munich 3 ward! It was really neat! I almost accomplished my mission goal of chasing down a biker, but the sweet older man stopped to talk to us even before I got two feet running. It was a neat experience working with both Sister Packer and Sister Smith again. I"m always so amazed of how much I learn on Austausch!  We were also able to see Dachau.  I remember going with my parents before my mission and feeling so overwhelmed and my emotions were guarded.  This time however, as a missionary who is called to preach hope and faith and to teach about a loving Heavenly Father and His plan, my eyes saw it differently.  I said a silent prayer that those who were so deeply affected by the Holocaust may have peace and the everlasting blessings through the Atonement.  

Sister Ahlm and I went back down south to visit Lenggries again, but instead of contacting our referrals again, we got to speak to Leandro, who is from Chile. He's lived in Germany for 15 years and knows a little about the Church, and we talked to him for an hour and twenty minutes right on the train platform where we had gotten off!  We are excited to meet with him again tomorrow to give him a Spanish Book of Mormon, and to continue helping him understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how it plays a role for him personally. It's always a wonder to me to look back and see the Lord's hand in absolutely everything we do, and that we are always in the place he needs us to be.

We met with the Muntean's again and had the chance to teach Nikolina the Plan of Salvation, which was good review for Adrian and Adele. They are reading in the Book of Mormon a little more frequently now, and are praying also a little more often. They have lots of good, deep questions, which shows Sister Ahlm and I that the Muntean's really think about what we teach! They are progressing so well.....we're working really hard right now to get them to church some Sunday. That's their biggest struggle right now, but we're hoping to set a goal to get them to come this week. 

I am so grateful for the Spirit. One of the greatest blessings, and yet challenges of a mission, is the opportunity to have the Spirit with you 100% of the time. As servants of the Lord, the Spirit guides us as to with whom we should speak, and to whom the Lord has prepared to hear the message of the Restored Gospel. Sometimes that's hard. Especially when you are really good at thinking twice like me! :) One thing I learned this week from Sister Ahlm was that you should just simply act upon those promptings, and to not think twice. Out of that, Sister Ahlm and I have met some of the neatest people, and have had special opportunities to serve others. I love President Uchtdorf's quote from two conferences ago, to "doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." I like to think of it as doubting my second thoughts before doubting the Spirit! When we trust the Lord, and act upon that faith, the Lord blesses us tremendously. Listen to the Spirit! Listen to His gentle promptings, no matter how small. You never know what miracle is about to come your way. Simply Listen.

I love you, my dear family and friends.  I must be off, but know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your incredible support and love!

Your Missionary,
Sister Natalie Motto