Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas in Vienna...Mass at Stephensdom...the New Year

What a fantastic week this was!! First off, I LOVED being able to talk to you!!!!!! What an amazing Christmas & Birthday gift it was to be able to talk over Skype. I never thought that day would come where I would be able to Skype home and now it`s schon vorbei! That experience was one I will never forget! Skyping with you offered me your incredible love and support. I am so blessed to have a family such as you!
Christmas Eve (which is celebrated more here than the 25th) we spent with the Schmid family and the Huy family. We were able to enjoy a delicious lunch at the Schmid´s, complete with knödel and Schweinbrat. It. Was. DELICIOUS. (Let me just say I am very happy I got to maintain Brown/Motto family tradition of eating a German meal for Christmas Eve.) After dinner we were able to attend Midnight Mass at the majestic Stephan´s Dome with the Huy`s and the rest of the missionaries in Vienna. What an experience that was --culturally and religiously very interesting. Over 500 people came to the mass and it was enitrely in German, not Latin like I thought it might be, so I was able to understand it.  Imagine people from all walks of life, most dressed in their finest traditional Austrian trachten, coming together to celebrate the birth of the Savior.  As I sat there and observed, I pondered that many of these people are probably "once-a-year Church goers"....and believing that honoring their Savior in this way is completely sufficient.  Alas ..this is why we are remind His children that there is more!  

Overall it was really an amazing experience and one I will never forget.  As we waited in line, we talked to a super fun couple from Seattle who was traveling Vienna for Christmas. We talked to them for 2 hours while we waited, and had a really great discussion about the Church and what we do as missionaries. This couple was so warm and friendly and very curious about what we believed, and what the differences between us and the Catholic church were. They found it amusing how many missionaries were at the Mass, and afterward we exchanged information. The also sang me happy birthday after the mass was over!  So sweet of them....and strangely reminded me that it actually was my birthday! I was so caught up in the cultural experience and the moments of celebrating Christmas...that I forgot I was turning 20.  I feel so blessed to be able to be here as a missionary on Christmas and to have this 20th birthday!
We were able to spend Christmas Day with our Relief Society President and another cute single lady from our ward. They made us a beautiful lunch....I feel like I've been eating so much! I am still feeling full! I am so grateful to incredible ward members who support us and take care of us. Overall, this Christmas was wonderful, and one I will never forget. Now I know what people say when they mean that Christmas will be the most special on your mission. I was able to contemplate and really, truly, deeply focus on the meaning of Christmas. I am so grateful to my Father in Heaven for the opportunity I have each day to focus my energy and thoughts on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how that made my Christmas THAT much more special. 
Now that the Christmas season is over-- it´s now time to floor the gas pedal and work that much harder as a missionary! Making goals is something not strange to missionary life, and I look forward to making resolutions for myself for this next year of 2014. Also, as a missionary, it´s really interesting to know the difference between diligently and prayerfully setting goals and accomplishing them, as opposed to setting goals just to set them. 
It is my testimony that in this new year, we can be completely made new. Just like in baptism! Exactly 12 years ago tomorrow, I made a very big step. I didn´t quite understand it, but in that font in Chicago, Illinois, I made one of the best choices of eternity. Through that decision to be baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, so many unseen and seen blessings have come into my life. 
I am so grateful for all of you and for your support and love. Talking with you gave me such strength and peace in knowing that all is well at home. I pray for you all by name, each and every day, and I cannot wait to talk to you again very, very soon. Know that I love you and am eternally grateful to be your family!!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Guten Rütsch!
Alles liebe,
Sister Natalie Motto

Monday, December 23, 2013

"Most rewarding Year of my Life -- Christmas Greetings from Sister Motto"

Hallo Familie und Freunde,

Meine Güte -- It's almost WEIHNACHTEN!!! The missionaries throughout our mission, myself very much included, are so excited for the opportunity to Skype home and talk with our families. I am so excited to see my wonderful family and feel of your love and joy face to face.   My bonus, in particular on this day....which very few can say, is that I get to see you for my birthday!  I know that Mom says she hates the idea of ever not being with me on my birthday.  Well, guess what?  You got your wish Mom!

This week we had Christmas Conference with President and Sister Miles.  Thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting, the Miles arranged for us to enjoy some good food, games, music, and a beautiful thought. We recieved packages, letters, and really were able to enjoy the time together as missionaries. I have realized more and more over the past few weeks what a blessing it is to be a missionary during this Christmas season. It brings a joy I cannot really describe. What a gift it is to be able to get together and sing praises in celebration of our Lord´s birth. And Christmas is only the beginning!  I know that you have been praying that I would not feel down because of not being home during this family oriented, special time of year.  Gratefully and as though our Heavenly Father has specifically heard your prayers, I am buoyed up and blessed to feel so much happiness, gratitude and pure love.  I am reminded daily through His Spirit that it's NOT about me.  I have been set apart to bring good will and the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to His children!  It's not hard to feel fulfillment and peace when you forget about yourself, focus on the Savior and follow His example.  All year round we have the opportunity to remember Him and His life, and the ever-significant role He has in Heavenly Father´s Plan of Happiness. How grateful I am for the knowledge I have of Heavenly Father´s plan, and for the testimony that I have to share with others. What a GIFT it is to be a missionary this time of year!  I know that repaying Him is not possible other than; living a Christ centered life, keeping the commandments, receiving those critical and eternal covenants and

Following Christmas conference, we were able to go caroling as a zone at Rathaus Weihnachtsmarkt (It's a huge Christmas market right down town in the historical area of Vienna and near Ringstrasse)! That was such a fun and exciting experience that I will never forget -- one of those "once in a lifetime" moments. I wish that I could have had you on face time.  You would have enjoyed watching us. In fact we did have a huge crowd follow us around us and take pictures, filmed us, and sang along. I wouldn´t be surprised if we were on Instagram and youtube by now.... :) And the best part is that we were able to get quite a few referrals for other missions (Rathaus is very international) and were able to share the message of the Restoration with many. What greater gift can there be this Christmas than the gift of the Gospel?

I went on Austausch this week with Sister Regnier who hails from sunny California. She is currently serving with Sister Judd in Graz. Sister Regnier is so amazing! We had a great time together! She is really sweet and very spiritual, and a very hard working missionary. Outside of getting lost visiting less actives (seems to be a trend with me....sheesh) and having all 4 of our appointments for that day fall out, it was a great exchange to get to work with and get to know Sister Regnier better.

Unfortunately due to our and her schedules, we weren´t able to meet with Frau Eiser this week. We have kept good contact almost every day and we are able over the phone to help answer her questions (as well as remind her about) in her Book of Mormon reading. She is a very sweet lady and I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach her.  She remains very interested in the Book of Mormon  and learning more about the church. As a missionary, it is really fun to look back and try and count all the times you have shared your testimony with someone or taught someone a lesson. The lessons and moments that stand out to me the most, however, are when not only I felt the Spirit, but the investigator did as well. Those moments are so cherished and beautiful, and are small little reminders of the joy as described in D&C 18.

I´ve got a funny story for you (debating whether or not I should save it for Skype....but I guess I´ll tell it now and elaborate more later.) Sister Green, the Elders, and myself were on our way home from a Family Home Evening with a family in our ward. We rode the S-bahn (schnell bahn) home and I was sure to tell Sister Green we needed to get off at the Gersthof stop. After that, we separated a little and went to talk with different people on the train. A few stops later at Gersthof, I got off and began looking for my companion. She was nowhere in sight. Having gotten off right where the Elders were sitting, they watched and laughed as I began to frantically look for my companion. The ÖBB train doors slammed shut, and my heart dropped as I watched the train pull away. Elders Worthen and Jensen began to laugh really hard, and I gestured to them to call Sister Green, who thankfully had the phone. As the schnellbahn pulled out of Gersthof, I saw Sister Green in the window talking with a young woman. She saw me on the platform, and her face was priceless! I began to laugh, and gestured to her to call the elders. Then the train was gone. I never thought in my entire mission that I would be separated from my companion this way. THANKFULLY Sister Green and I discussed an "emergency plan" in case we were ever separated on an Ubahn usw, that I would always come to her. I sat peacefully on the gangplank until the next schnellbahn came 12 minutes later and met Sister Green and the Elders at the next stop Krottenbach. I was very calm during the whole process, definitely a blessing from heaven, because a little American Mormon missionary lost ALONE in Vienna isn´t probably the best scenario. I was able to talk with a woman who traveled with me on the train to Krottenbach, and was able to teach her about the Restoration! That was a tender mercy. Needless to say, after this experience, Sister Green and I have remained in eye contact to eachother! (We later told this story to President Miles and he just laughed and laughed.  I assume we are not the first ones to have this experience.)

I hope this email finds you all healthy, well, and excited for CHRISTMAS! I have felt so peaceful deep inside my soul, and i know it is due to the prayers and love being felt in my behalf. I read a talk this morning by Elder Nelson from the most recent conference, "Decisions for Eternity." As I read this talk, I was overwhelmed with love from my Father in Heaven. This life changing decision to serve the Lord has shaped and molded me in unbelievable ways.  I have had experiences and moments where I have been able to feast upon the Spirit, and through which I have gained priceless knowledge and personal revelation. In return from these blessings and experiences, I have become a more diligent and effective missionary. I am still learning, still making mistakes, but always  moving forward in the best way I know how. As Elder Nelson stated, "Each day is a day of decision, and our decisions determine our destiny."

This year has been the most rewarding of my entire life, and I am so thankful for the chance to spend my year of 2014 in the service of my God.

I pray that each of you will be reminded in a very special way that Jesus, whose birth we celebrate this week, is the Savior. My heart is so full!! I love you all SO MUCH!!! May your Christmas be warm, merry, white, and bright! And, of course, enjoy a very happy and wonderful new year.

Frohe Weihnachten!

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Monday, December 16, 2013

Enjoying the dream of a missionary living in Vienna at Christmastime

Liebe Familie und Freunde,

Guten Morgan and guess what? Christmas is right around the corner!!  With all this authentic Austrian celebration of Christmas, it still doesn't feel completely 100% Christmasy without snow. Where is my snow?!  So apparently the awesome Viennese old timers "Wieners" here keep informing me that  it is very rare for snow to come at Christmastime.  Kind of bummed about that...then again.... regardless of what color this Christmas is--I get to spend it in VIENNA!! :) 

We have been busy little elves, ah hem, missionaries...bringing lots of GOOD NEWS to people as much as we can! It's been fun contacting in the Christmas markets though most who are there are uninterested in stopping and talking.  It's really the random "run-ins" where I can honestly say that the Lord places that person there and us right smack in front of them for no other purpose than to say "Hi, we are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we would love to share with you a beautiful message about the Savior".  I love those kind of "accidental" meetings.  Every day we pray that we will be placed in the right spot at the right it helps that every time I get lost...I still feel as if the Lord is directing me to "that person".   Getting lost in Vienna isn't all that bad.

I'm going to have a "first" here in Vienna cool is this?  We have been invited by members to attend midnight mass with the elders at the beautiful Stephan's Dome on the 24th. I am so excited!  I assume it will be quite a cultural shock, in a way, but kind of cool that we can observe other religions celebrating the Birth of the Savior. We also had a WONDERFUL ward Christmas party this weekend, and got to make lebkuchen (my FAVORITE!!) Nothing better than a rich, Christmas cultural experience for the holidays. The members spoil us here and are so warm and loving and they all feel like they need to watch over us, make sure we are eating well and healthy and staying bundled up.  I get reminded every Sunday to keep a hat, gloves and scarf on...there you go Mom.  No worrying!  I LOVE this Vienna 1st ward!!!!

This week was truly full of miracles. Heavenly Father has blessed Sister Green and I with so many teaching opportunities, to find and teach more of His prepared and ready children for the message of the Gospel. HE really does look out for His missionaries.  We just have to have faith.

One funny yet so amazing experience we had was at church yesterday. We were mingling after Sacrament Meeting (which comes last in the 3 hour block over here) and a cute older very colorfully & sharply dressed lady came up to us. She introduced herself and plötzlich told Sister Green that she wants to be baptized, and will give us a call sometime today so we can set up an appointment to start teaching her.  WHAT?!!!  And she came to Church without even our invitation!!  (Isn't that cool how a church building is like a Liahona for others?) So Clara apparently had been taught by missionaries a few years back, but had some family problems and could not continue being taught. Now apparently she is ready and completely willing to hear the message of the restored Gospel. WOW.  We are so excited! We also were able to meet a friend of Miga, a student named "B", who is also from Mongolia and studies here in Vienna. When Miga invited her to church a few weeks ago, "B" was really hesitant to learn about Christ, especially after having no Christian background. The past 3 weeks B has been coming to church, and Miga (our amazing translator) told us that B feels something different when she is at church, and is wanting to learn more about the Church. The feelings she's been having at church make her feel really warm inside, and she wants to learn where those feelings come from. Because Miga leaves for her mission tomorrow, our wonderful Baagii Huy will help us with translating, and all the while we will be helping B learn German. It will definitely be an adventure and a challenge, as language barriers always are, but overall we are very excited to teach both B and Clara.

Our lesson with Frau Eiser this week was spectacular!!! I wish you could have been a fly on the wall.  Sweet sweet moments as we taught her about prophets and the importance of a restoration of the Priesthood on the earth.  As part of the 1st lesson in "Verkündet Mein Evangelium!" (Preach My Gospel), the Spirit was so sweet and warm.  We asked her if she believed there could be a living prophet on the earth today, just as Abraham and Moses in the Bible. She sat quietly for a minute, and then looked at us and said "well, I am not quite sure. I would need to pray about it, but my heart is telling me yes." We then challenged Frau Eiser to pray about Thomas S. Monson, if he really is a prophet and if what we had taught her was true. The Spirit was so gentle and quiet in that moment, and yet overwhelming and simply beautiful. Frau Eiser is making so much progress! I have such a testimony that the prayers of you at home truly help and bless our work here as missionaries. For that I am so grateful!

This week I have been really focusing on the "true meaning of Christmas", and what that means to me as a missionary. Earlier this week, I was listening to some reverent Christmas music and heard  "O Come, Emmanuel."  We learn in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon of faithful Christians in the Old and New Worlds awaiting His birth. As I think of what I can do to better come closer to my Savior this holiday season, I think of the call of "O Come, Emmanuel." By definition, Emmanuel, or Immanuel, is Hebrew for "God with us."  

(You know how special it is to walk around and look for people to share the Lord's message with while listening to street vendors and young school children singing Silent Night??? OH and in AUSTRIA!)

What an absolutely incredible, everlasting GIFT our loving Heavenly Father gave us by sending us His Son.  There are also the bountious gifts of personal revelation, the gift of a testimony, the gift of peace and comfort, the gift of gratitude. I've mentioned before that, outside of my family and my temple covenants, my mission is the greatest gift I have ever been given. I have recognized more and more is truly how much our loving Heavenly Father gives us. We all need to pause for a moment this Christmas holiday and say THANK YOU for all these gifts He has graciously and openly given us!!!!

How grateful I am for this Gospel and my Savior Jesus Christ, and for this very, very brief time and opportunity I have to serve Him. I thank you for your prayers and support given in my behalf each day. I never understood what missionaries meant when they said they "feel" the support and love, but now I do. I truly feel strength in my muscles when I awake in the morning to get up and work. I feel motivated and the desire to work hard. I feel an outpouring of love in the letters and emails I recieve each week. Know that I am forever grateful for all of you! I love you all and wish you all a very wonderful and gratitude filled week! 

I can't wait to Skype with you on Christmas!

Your very grateful, almost 20 year old missionary,

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Monday, December 9, 2013

Letter from Sister Motto "The Lord has been prominent in our life this week"

Hallo Familie und Freunde!!

The hand of the Lord has been so prominent in our lives this week! He is constantly blessing us with tender mercies every moment of every day, but today I am particularly thankful as I reflect upon the past 7 days.

This week we began to teach Frau Eiser, a woman who was a referral from the Bishop in the Linz ward in Salzburg stake. Frau Eiser is about 50 years old and is good friends with the Bishop in Linz. They`ve talked a little about the gospel together, and when the bishop found out that Frau Eiser would be moving to Vienna (this occured about a month ago) he gave us a call and asked us to get in touch with her! Figuring that Frau Eiser maybe wanted help moving, we called her and asked when we could come help with the move and get things organized. She thanked us graciously, and said "I don`t need help moving, but I would really like to learn more about your church. I have a Book of Mormon, and also a lot of questions. When do you have time?" Can I just express how much missionaries LOVE those kind of comments??!!!! :) We met with Frau Eiser Wednesday and had a wonderful first lesson with her, mostly answering her questions about the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and prayer. We will be meeting with Frau Eiser (I almost wrote Sister Eiser!) again this week Thursday. Please keep her in your prayers.   Member missionary work is powerful and makes THE DIFFERENCE!

We were able to get my visa (resident permit for Austria)  this week and get Sister Green all registered for hers. Aside from getting COMPLETELY lost in Vienna for about an hour, I am quite proud to say that Sister Motto found her way back home again, (though admittingly after giving the Zone leaders and Elder Bodily a call to help me get on track), and was able to figure out a shortcut to the visa place for our next trip there. Taking over this area has been a little bit of a challenge, especially with only having been here for 6 weeks before Sister Green got here. Sister Green is such a trooper though, and is very patient when it takes just a little extra time to get places because Sister Motto is still trying to figure out her way around. :) I may be a bit "blonde" and directionally challenged but I'm faithful, know how to pray, ask directions and laugh. By the time I get home, I look forward to being completely PRO at public transportation and getting around!

Yesterday was interesting and amazing at the same time. I love our ward and church, as usual was great! I had the opportunity to play the piano in Sacrament Meeting again.  Bischoff Souceck asked me to play about 3 weeks ago, and I was so excited for another opportunity to play piano. I played Dr. Hatch`s arrangement of "Spirit of God." It went well and I was content.  I am always grateful for the opportunity to share my testimony through music. Music speaks much louder and touches much deeper than words could ever express. 

After church, we were able to eat with our GML Perry and his wife Theresa with the elders and Miga. (Miga has her mission call to this mission, and has had quite a few visa problems. She got her Austrian visa and is able to start her mission in Linz next week! She will be in a dritt with Sister Peterson and Hungerli.) We had a great lesson, but afterward I was NOT feeling well. We went home to begin studies before planning to head out again, but I honestly could not move. Ugh, ugh, ugh....Last night I woke up and was sick all night long. None of the others who ate at Perry`s got something weird happened to me. The food maybe?  Either way, I didn`t get much sleep and was sick all night, as well as a little today, but I have been drinking lots of fluids, restricted my diet to crackers and herbal ginger and peppermint tea and I am beginning to feel a bit better. It is hard being sick on a mission: it`s hard being completely helpless and not being able to work like you want to. It`s almost a guilty feeling taking time for myself when I am on the Lord`s time, but I know He understands and I need to rest up and get healthy to be able to give this work my best effort. Please don't worry about me, I'll be fine! I am confident "this"  was just the 24 hour variety. 

I was reviewing my General Conference notes from this past October conference, and I came across this quote from Elder Nelson´s talk "Decisions for Eternity." This talk was probably one of my very favorites! Elder Nelson said, "Your spirit is an eternal entity....Your Heavenly Father has known you for a very long time. You, as His son or daughter, were chosen by Him to come to earth at this precise time, to be a leader in His great work on earth.You were chosen not for your bodily characteristics but for your spiritual attributes, such as bravery, courage, integrity of heart, a thirst for truth, a hunger for wisdom, and a desire to serve others. You developed some of these attributes premortally. Others you can develop here on earth as you persistently seek them." What a beautiful, eternal truth!!!

When taught the Gospel and when they listen with an open, sincere heart and desire to learn, the Gospel has a familiar "ring" to people. Each day, whether on the straßenbahn, Ubahn, bus, or out walking, I cannot help but think to myself how I used to know these individuals premortally, and what a silly thing it is that we don`t remember one another. What a humbling thought it is, as well, to think that I have been given gifts, spiritual gifts, meant to bless and uplift those around me, and how others´ are there for my benefit. That thought alone makes me want to work so much harder to find those ready to hear the Gospel, and do all I can just as Alma says in Alma 29, to preach the Gospel "with the voice of a trump!"

Another thought along the lines of this quote....our Heavenly Father loves us. He is our FATHER. Being on a mission and far away from home, I can´t pick up the phone and give my wonderful Daddy in Utah a call and talk for a while. However, I always have the opportunity to communicate with my other Father. This Father has unlimited minutes, and is always "online". He is always there to give us counsel, comfort, and love. Just as Elder Nelson says, "He has known (us) for a long time" and He is consistently, unwaveringly there for us and gives us exactly what we need in the time we need it. I had an experience a couple weeks ago where I was getting close to the end of my rope. I was exhausted and tired and spiritually drained. In a moment during quiet personal prayer, Heavenly Father blessed me with the comfort and presence of His Spirit, and with gentle warmth let me know that everything would be ok and that I could indeed continue on. I have such a testimony of prayer and am so grateful for the opportunity here on my mission to build my relationship with my Heavenly Vater and my Savior Jesus Christ each and every day.

Have a wonderful week! I am so grateful for your letters of support and many many prayers in my behalf.  Thank you for helping me stay strong and continue on in those moments of discouragement.  Thank goodness those only last a few minutes and I remember the responsibility I have to preach this Gospel with fervor and faith and give others optimism and a wonderful hope for eternal life.  

I love this Gospel so much.  

Alles gute!
Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Monday, December 2, 2013

Week 27…"Christmas and Adventzeit have arrived in Vienna"

Hallo liebe Familie und Freunde!!

Tis the season and deck the halls... Christmas and Adventzeit have arrived in VIENNA!  Charming little (actually really very big) Christmas markets have exploded around every corner, and beautiful lights are hanging over the streets, on buildings, sign posts and even on the S-Bahn.  The delicious scent of nutmeg, citrus and chocolate and hot cider permeate the air and the Christmas desserts and delicacies are everywhere.  I am most thankful to be a missionary during this magical time in Austria. 

Over the past week, I have said goodbye to one companion and greeted another! Sister Judd is now serving in nearby Graz as Sister Training Leader, so we will have the opportunity to go on Tausch together! :) Sister Green and I have been "reunited" so zu sagen, and are so happy and excited to be working together here in Vienna. It's kind of surreal being able to work with my MTC companion again, but particularly special at the same time.  Seeing her again makes me realize how FAST time goes.  Both of us have been out for 6 months and have learned a lot: it's now time for us to take what we've learned and add it together and apply it to most effectively work here in the Vienna 1st ward.

This week was extremely hectic with getting two sisters moved out of our apartment, getting two sisters moved in, saying goodbyes and hellos and serving the Lord. Thursday of last week was transfer day, and because Sister Judd and Sister Harman left earlier in the morning, Sister Clark and I had the opportunity to be companions for a day. It was so much fun being able to spend time with Sister Clark as companions again. :) I love her so much!! We were able to have Thanksgiving lunch/dinner with some American families in Sister Clark's ward. I heard you got the pictures from Sister Rhee!! Although it wasn't completely "home", I felt so at peace and loved with these families. I got to spend time with cute 9 year old Julianna Rhee-- talking about horses and swim team and dogs (she's a little version of me!), and got to spend some time in the yard playing with the family dog Balli. It was just like being at home!! Thanksgiving was wonderful overall.  I know you prayed that I would feel gratitude and not be homesick and that is exactly how I felt.  We ate plenty of traditional American turkey and rolls and yams and potatoes-- everything tasted soooooo good and it was comforting to be among some fellow American Saints during this holiday. I thought a lot about you, my dear family, and want to let you know that not a moment has gone by that I don't think of you fondly and lovingly! I am so grateful for all you do for me and your prayers. I feel them each day, and even the thought of prayers in my behalf gives me strength and courage to do what I do each and every day.

For the majority of our weekend, Sister Green and I had the opportunity, along with the other Vienna missionaries, to volunteer and help out with the Vienna International Charity Bazaar held each year at the Vienna Austria Center. Friday afternoon we helped set up the stands and chairs and booths, and then Saturday got to help with selling items. Missionaries have helped out each year for quite a few years in a row, and it has made a good impression on the Church. It's always good to show people that we are normal, average people who are simply performing a work of love and dedication. Sister Green and I had a neat opportunity to talk to many people about our faith and what we do as missionaries, as people came up to us and asked about our nametags. We talked with people from all over the world! We found quite a few of potentials to teach the Gospel.   Any opportunity to FIND the Lord's children who want to hear about the Savior is always a great one to take! We had prayed earlier that day that Heavenly Father would give us the opportunity to find some of His prepared to teach, and He answered our prayers! There is great power in prayer and faith and putting forth our effort in working. Prayer just doesn't work without action, doing something...forgetting about ourselves and relying solely on our Heavenly Father.

I know Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is right on it's way, but I want to take this time to simply express gratitude for being able to serve a full-time mission. My heart is honestly so full as I sit and write this email. Even during the hard times, (and I have plenty) I learn so many things.  I have never had so many, daily, almost life changing learning experience than here on my mission. When everyone told me that a mission would be hard, I expected it to be hard in completely other ways that it is. Simply put, a mission experience and the emotions connected cannot be put into words. My mission has taught me so much. As I look back in retrospect over the past six months, I have made plenty of mistakes. But these mistakes have taught me and have given me experience to become better.  We give our best, we try our hardest, we mess up, we succeed, and we progress. As long as we are willing to PRESS FORWARD and give it our best, the Lord will help us become who we want to become. He cannot change us without us wanting to be changed. When we want to change, when we want to be better, when we want to be more refined, the Lord blesses us bountifully with gifts and talents and trials and blessings that ultimately make up a recipe for a better refined, dedicated, sanctified individual. I am so grateful I have decided to serve a mission. I'm not a perfect missionary, and I have LOTS to learn and I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for this Sister Motto!

I am so grateful for this unique opportunity to walk hand in hand with my Savior, going about His work, and being able to serve Him 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. He has given me so much in my life. Where much is given, much is required (thanks for always saying that Mom!) and we have been given SO MUCH. I see individuals here on my mission who have literally nothing: in temporal and physical needs, as well as spiritual nourishment. (Even in this prosperous city, there is plenty of poverty.) There has been nothing more rewarding that I have ever been given in my entire life, than to see someone broken, beaten, and lost, and see them accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Simply message today is this.  The Lord has commanded us to feed His sheep, to find that lost lamb, to nourish it and take care of it and bring it back to His fold.  We can all do this everyday of our lives...missionary or not.  At this time of my life, I am a called servant of Jesus Christ to bear witness and to preach His Gospel for it is true and the only way we can return to Him is by accepting and living it.  

What a priviledge it is to bear His name upon my heart, each and every day, and to be His representative.

I love you all so much! Stay healthy and enjoy the beautiful season to celebrate and remember our Savior's birth.


Liebe Grüße from your favorite Austrian missionary,

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Hiking in the VIenna Woods (cue Strauss)

Viennas Christkindlemarkt

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Letter from Sister Natalie Motto Transfer News: "I Couldn't Feel More Blessed"

Servus meine Lieblings!!
First things first...because I know you may be curious......Transfer 5 News, albeit bittersweet: I am staying in this amazing city another transfer and I couldn't feel more blessed!!!!!   The bitter side of this sweet is that Sister Judd is getting transferred to Graz and will be serving as Sister Training Leader. I have great confidence that Sister Judd will do amazing as a STL and in Graz before she goes home in a couple months.  I will miss her but we have had a great friendship and effective companionship and I'm so grateful for the time we have been able to serve in Wien together.  Now it will be my pleasure to work with my wonderful MTC companion Sister Green for the next little while here in VIENNA!  Even though we were only together a short 11 days in the MTC, I know and love her already.  Sister Clark will be working with Sister Nicole Packer, one of my awesome friends from PG High School. (So we will be roomies!!)  Small world, even smaller mission, and lots of good things happening darin!  I can't imagine what it takes to organize and navigate so many companionships every transfer...I know President Miles spends hours on his knees for guidance and so I know that these transfers are what the Lord wants and needs to continue to build His Kingdom.  Blessed! 

This week was CRAZY busy. Sorry if I am repeating myself every week but its true!  Busy missionary = tired missionary = happy missionary!  I have been going to bed exhausted and waking up....yep, you guessed it....exhausted! :)    I wouldn`t have it any other way.  Thankfully the hard work is paying off!  (Speaking of paying off...I am happy to announce that I have conquered the Euro/Dollar thing...I have successfully converted everything in my non-numerical mind which has helped me figure out really what I am spending.  For awhile there, the Euros really seemed like Disney Dollars:) 

You know what is fun and exciting?  Being a missionary!  Administering His work through various means of missionary work is awesome. We are happier and more productive when we have balance in our work/life. So this week we spent a lot of time doing follow-ups and street contacting in search for new investigators. We had some AWESOME appointments with some teaching potentials as well as less actives.  I cant say enough good about our Wien 1 members. LOVE this ward!! Their support for this work is mind blowing and truly humbling.  We had over 20 less active visits!   I really think that these less actives just need to know that they are loved and are important to the Lord.  That is our message...and it rings true for all of us, doesn't it?  The Lord LOVES US!!   I had a couple of less actives throw their arms around me and thanked me for sharing our message.  The appreciation from them was tangible and so sweet. 

Apropos of balance in all be able to attend the USA v AUSTRIA mens nation soccer game was so much fun!!!!  I would have loved for you to be there with me family.  That's great that you were able to see it on TV and I laughed when you said that you kept pausing the TIVO in order to scan the audience for a glimpse of me!  I feel so loved and important:)  Well, at least you got some of my pictures, right?  The Elders in the Vienna 5th ward were invited by their members, so we had a group of 8 missionaries at the game. We spent our time with some of our favorite members and enjoyed the crazy, upbeat, energetic culture of a Euro Fussball game.  Even though the Fussball environment was itself was rather insane...we all felt very "protected", as if we were in our own little bubble.  True that the Lord watches over His missionaries....even at soccer games. Das Stimmt!

Our wonderful Vienna missionaries from Wien 1 and Wien 5 along with the members who invited us -- isn't that cool!?

The atmosphere was electric!  Even though this place was completely insane -- we were protected, almost as if we were in a bubble.

Doesn't matter where we are -- we are missionaries first and always!

This week I also got to experience my very first European Christmas market!!!  I walked in....and stood in complete wonder and amazement.  It took my breathe away. Sister Judd just giggled at my enthusiasm.  How could she know that I`ve heard about Christmas markets my ENTIRE life (How can this Christmas baby NOT love anything Christmas?)  and then to experience one for the first time was even more magical than I could have ever dreamed. We are going again today after a Thanksgiving lunch with our entire district. I can`t wait!  I have decided to do the remainder of our December street contacting at the Christmas markets.  Lots of people there to meet and to explain about the true meaning of Christmas:) 

One of the many Vienna Christmas markets

We were able to enjoy our ward Primary Program yesterday. Our cute 12 primary children sang songs and gave talks outlining the lesson as found in  Preach My Gospel, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ."  Best things happen during the primary programs, gel?  So amidst little Mattiaus blowing in the mike like Darth Vader and cute Malisse singing at the top of her lungs with no tone at all, the Spirit that filled the chapel yesterday was one of the sweetest I have ever felt on my mission. I had to control my almost sobbing sounds of tears.  Our sweet investigator, Nicole came to church yesterday with her son Davin and daughter Nelia for the first time in about 2 months.  She loved it and felt so much love.  Also, our investigator Tanja came to Church for the first time in a long while yesterday. She told me she had questoins that she needed asnwered, and that`s why she came. During the Sacrament Tanja leaned over to me and whispered, with tears in her eyes, that her questions were being answered simply by realizing  the warm flood of emotion building in her chest. She wept even more during the PV Program, and I am so grateful that Tanja was able to feel of the Spirit as strongly as I myself did during the beautiful meeting.

This weekend we were privileged to have Zone Conference. I could go on about President and Sister Miles all day --  I think the Alpine German Speaking Mission is probably the luckiest in the Church to have such an incredible, humble, wonderful leader guiding us. Our main focus this conference was our mission thema/motto which is "Wir sind gehorsam, wir sprechen mit jedem, und wir taufen", or "We are obedient, we talk with everyone, and we baptize." President and Sister Miles talked a lot about the importance of being obedient and it was emphasized over and over the importance of kneeling in prayer at the end of each day and reporting back to our Heavenly Father how obedient we were. I thought it was really interesting and decided to rededicate myself to this challenge. Obedience is such a powerful concept.  Each day we make hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions. Some are big and some are small, some are for our benefit and others can lead to unpleasant consequences.  Heavenly Father, knowing that we need some guidance, has given us commandments and rules to help us better differenciate good from the bad. But, because we  human, we all make mistakes. But it is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we are able to  repent and promise to be better.  This week...for our US Thanksgiving holiday...I am most grateful for that.  The Atonement allows us to return to our ever-forgiven, loving, perfect Heavenly Father.
Our Vienna district singing….:)

Viena Zone Conference December BIrthdays 

Our amazing Vienna zone with President and Sister Miles
We LOVE our Vienna Elders….They are so good to us!

I want to let you all know of my testimony of this Gospel and the infinite role our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ plays in our lives. He is there to comfort us, support us, give us strength, and help us begin anew according to our needs. He is there to encourage, inspire, enlighten, and bless.  It is beyond words of earthly description to tell you of my appreciation to my Savior and to my most loving Heavenly Father who I KNOW live!!

I love you all! Onto the next transfer with a new and bright beginning. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and always remember to be grateful, not just Thursday, so God can better give you those blessings "in überfluß."

Alles liebe,
Sister Natalie Motto    
Bonus pictures sent by a member of the Sister Missionaries learning how to make Chocolate Balls

Monday, November 18, 2013

Letter From Sister Motto in VIENNA!!! "The Modern Day Miracle"

Liebe Familie und Freunde,

Servus Servus from chilly Vienna!! And what do you honor my arrival in Vienna the Christmas lights are up and Christmas markets open TODAY....really, how did they know?! ;)  

Ok.....mission life. I am LOVING VIENNA!! My new favorite city on earth. I cannot believe this transfer is almost up. I feel so at home here. My ward is absolutely incredible. Bishop Christoph Soucek is President Thomas Soucek's brother, and he is seriously an older version of Elder Quinn Black. I'll send you a picture sometime. We have a cute 91 year old lady who gives us Manner candy bar each week: needless to say my Manner supply is good for a while. I love being a missionary in a big city: the work here is simply different. Many missionaries in our mission call Vienna "magical" because the member-missionary work is very, very strong. There are times I really miss my cute little quaint Göppingen but like I said I feel very at home and very comfy cozy here in Vienna. The peace I felt from Day 1 has not left. I know this is where I need to be.

So much happened this week!  I'm out of breath just thinking about it.....  First, we were informed last Monday of a new policy in our mission where we are able to write emails on Thursdays for one hour to participate in some ONLINE missionary work! We email our investigators, potentials, and "familiarize ourselves with the LDS websites". So neat!  These emails will be strictly for the pure essence of missionary work and not to email home, sorry Mom.

This week we also had our Zone Training meeting, and this upcoming Friday we will have Zone Conference.  At Zone Training we talked about HOPE, our Christlike attribute for this month picked out by Sister Miles, and focused on the talk by Elder Uchtdorf "The Hope of God's Light."  We had a discussion on what we thought the opposite of hope was. I didn't quite think about it, but the opposite of hope is DESPAIR.  Hope is like a beacon of light, and when we don't have hope we are walking in darkness, whatever our personal darknesses may be. What a blessing and heavenly gift it is to have a testimony and knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ, who is our ultimate Source of light. Faith and hope go hand in hand: you cannot have one without the other.   Our Vienna Zone is something special...all of these missionaries are united in faith.  They are all stalwart, strong and believing....and of much fun!  I loved seeing my local friend Sister Winters and meeting some of the other newer missionaries.  This is a GREAT place and an amazing time to be a missionary!

In the upcoming weeks the 280 strong missionaries in the Alpine German Speaking Mission will be exercising our FAITH and HOPE as we have promised with the Lord to participate in a modern-day miracle. We, as a mission, are fasting twice this month and exercising our faith as we work each day, to bring to pass 180 more baptisms by December 31, 2013, to reach our 2013 year goal of 290 baptisms. Now, this miracle is not going to be easy, and as missionaries and members we are going to have to put forth our very, very, very best efforts to accomplish this goal. Hope and it's dutiful partner Faith are the two attributes and elements we will hang onto as we go out and work each day to fulfill this goal in bringing 180 precious, beloved Sons and Daughters unto Him. President Miles has encouraged each missionary to read "It's a Miracle" by Elder Neil L Andersen and to pray with the Lord to figure out what our personal contributions to this goal are. I have such a strong testimony of this promise, and I KNOW the Lord has in mind a great plan for each individual Elder and Sister in the mission, because He does for me. I have never wanted to work harder on my mission! I realize now that I have always had this drive, but now with a divine, beautiful, personal witness of how I as a missionary can contribute to the Lord's work.  Asking the Lord and recieving this answer was something I've needed to do all along. I can happily say that from this moment on, my mission has improved and changed for the better!

Guess WHAT?! On Tuesday the national Austrian Soccer Team plays a friendly with the USA!!!  And we get to go!!! Tor Tor Tor….can you believe that???!!! We are shortening our pday today so that we can have some "saved" over for Tuesday night.  I am so excited and will be thinking about my soccer obsessed family during the entire thing!

A couple of days ago we were able to meet with Nicole Mörwald (who was found by Elder Moon [E Moon is from our home stake in Lindon] when he served here in Wien 1!). Nicole is an individual I feel like I really connect with. Nicole has had all the lessons, but because of a source Nicole cannot control,  denial from her husband, she cannot yet be baptized. Our lessons, therefore, are always discussions and are really interessting as we help Nicole's understanding of the Gospel grow. We talked about Joseph in Egypt and how the main message of his story is the beautiful gift of forgiveness. We also talked about faith and prayer, and together kneeled in prayer for the families and people in the Phillipines, and the people who have been effected by this natural disaster. Nicole offered the prayer, and what a prayer full of faith and humility it was, as she prayed specifically for the missionaries, their families, the members of the Church, and the children. It was such a beautiful moment.   Please continue to pray that her husbands heart will soften.

This weekend we were able to attend the baptism of Pouria Baktahr, Elder Richmans and Worthens investigator!!  Pouria refers to himself as Pouria Nephi as he LOVES Nephi and wants to strive to become more like him.  This baptism was full of support and love from the sweet saints in this ward.  Sister Judd and I have had the opportunity to sit in and teach Pouria a few times with the Elders and the 5 of us have created a great circle of friends. This past Saturday Pouria was baptized by Richard Huy, one of our ward missionaries (Baagi's husband). Richard and Baagi have become surrogate parents for Pouria, and the overall baptism was very, very touching.  I adore this ward -- they are strong and supportive and diligent in all things. Pouria was first introduced to the missionaries in Innsbruck and met them on the street, and that was the only interaction he had with them.  See, there are lots of successes with street contacting! A few weeks later after moving to Vienna, Pouria had a dream about 2 missionaries. He awoke the next morning, which happened to be Sunday, and had an overwhelming prompting to go to Church. He looked up our address, Silbergasse 2, attended Sacrament Meeting, and asked Elders Richman and Worthen if he could be taught everything to know about the Gospel. He was baptized 7 weeks later. In his blessing when he was given the gift of the Holy Ghost, Pouria was complimented on his ability to recognize the truth of God, and that this spiritual gift will bless his life and family in the future. Pouria is an example of just one out of many who are prepared and ready to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ: it's our job as missionaries to find those sheep!  No one can claim that Germany and Austria and Switzerland are not ready to hear the Gospel...the Gospel is going forth stronger than ever! We are a baptizing mission!

Newest Member of the Wien 1 ward

I was deeply touched as today I read "Being A More Christian Christian" from Oktober 2012 General Conference, by Elder Robert D. Hales.  For me, I will never forget December 31, 2001 on a very cold morning in Chicago, Illinois: the day I was baptized. Second, I will never forget February 28, 2013, as I further made promises with my Father in Heaven and took once again myself the name of Christ when I was blessed to receive my endowment

As we make these promises, namely at baptism, we are to "forsake our nets and follow Him" just as Peter and Andrew. We are to leave behind worldly habits, customs, and traditions. That also means leaving behind regret, doubt, fear, and looking forward to a new day and promise to be better. We are literally made new in Christ, and as Elder Hales says "our very natures change, and we are no longer wanting to go back to our old ways." This process is called CONVERSION. Even as we become converted and steadfast and rock-solid faithful, there must needs be for opposition in all things. Even the most faithful of Christians and members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints will be, as Elder Hales says, BLESSED with the opportunity to experience difficulties and disappointments. What? I would have never guessed my trials would be considered to be so much as a blessing. A learning experience, most definitely. Something to make me a better person, no doubt. But as a blessing? Wie so? These challenges Elder Hales describes as refining challenges, challenges and hardships that will ultimately, if we hold faithful, shape and mold us to become new Disciples of Christ.

He is there to bless us. He is there to lift, encourage, comfort, and build us. Jesus Christ is our Savior who loves us! I am so honored to be in His service.

Ich wünsche Euch Alles Güte und wünsche dass Ihr alle eine wunderbare Woche haben werdet!

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Natalie Motto

Monday, November 11, 2013

Week 24 from Sister Motto "The Simple Things Continue to Bless My Life Everyday"

Dearest Family and Friends,

Servus aus beautiful albeit grey and a little chilly-- wunderbar Vienna! Even in this muddled weather, this city is still beautiful and majestic! I am so humbled and so grateful to be able to serve in here in WIEN!

This week was exhausting! Which is good, right?  What do you say mom..."a tired missionary is the best missionary" ?   You speak truth.  When we are tired, I know it's because we have been stretching ourselves to the very limit of weariness -- in a good way.  Hard work pays off and that is what the Lord expects.  This week's exhaustion brought upon a couple of extra knots in my shoulders and neck -- not quite the size of Texas but close. :)   But it's ok, I know that as I continue to be obedient and desire to work hard, the Lord will provide the physical, emotional and spiritual strength to do so. Each day my heart swells with the overwhelming warmth of LOVE and GRATITUDE to be here on a mission.   That warmth, I am certain,  will get me through the coming months of cold, wet and snow!

Gratefully this week we were able to accomplish wonderful and LOTS of follow-ups on previous investigators, hoping to increase our pool of investigators and help our sweet less actives and young adults. Through this process, we met Tovo, a young man about 27 years old from Madagascar. He is living with his sister here in Vienna to study German and history. Tovo has excellent German, and is very excited to continue learning more about the Church. He lost contact with missionaries a few years ago and was so pleased when we called. Our first meeting with him was great! We gave him a Book of Mormon in French, his mother language, and then almost immediately challenged him to baptism.  In only the way that our Heavenly Father can provide, the sweet small voice of the Spirit told us that Tovo wasn't ready and that we needed to wait to ask him for this commitment at this time.  And as a result of our listening and following the Spirit, Tovo said " I want to learn for myself this pathway is the one God wants me to take, and I will read this book completely, and then decide."   Since Monday of last week Tovo has read all the way to Mosiah, and keeps desiring to read more.  He loves the Book of Mormon!!!  We are meeting with him again tomorrow, and this week we will be team-teaching him with the Elders.  Isn't that awesome?

Yesterday I got to play the piano in Primary!!  Yay!!  I LOVE whenever I can play it.  The assigned pianist was out of town, and our GML's darling wife Theresa asked me to play. The kids here in the Vienna 1st ward are preparing to sing in the PV-Darbietung, Primary Programm, at the end of this month. This may sound silly but I got a little emotional listening to these little Austrian angels singing. Could there be anything sweeter than a child singing and praising our Heavenly Father in song?  I love our primary programs at home and this one promises to be as special -- if not more than ever.  For some reason, hearing the same songs I grew up with, now in German, deeply touches my soul and brings tears to my eyes.  (I cannot wait to take pictures and perhaps sneak in a film of them practicing sometime soon!)

After church we ate lunch with our wonderful and darling GML (ward mission leader) Perry, his wife Theresa, the elders, and the elders' investigator Pouria.  MOM AND DAD -- I had FUFU!! And's like what you said....interesting, kind of enjoyable but totally different than what I'm used to!  "Fufu" is a Ghanaian dish that Perry really enjoys. It was really messy because you don't use utensils, that was strange.  Thank goodness for soap and water...the simple things continue to bless my life everyday.  We watched the Hastening the Work of Salvation broadcast with them, and then talked about the importance of missionary work. Both Theresa and Perry, newlyweds and freshly returned missionaries, were so excited that we are sharing this film with our members! Pouria loved the film as well, and is also excited to participate, hopefully, in full time missionary service one year from his baptism (which is on Saturday) . So excited!!

Following our appointment I was talking with Elder Richman and Pouria about how many of the world's most renowned and gifted composers are buried here in Vienna, and only a short jog from my apartment (actually, the original burial places of Beethoven and Schubert are just around the corner! Pictures next week). Elder Richman, another amazing musician, got very, very excited. He asked Pouria if he knew who Beethoven was, and Pouria in his French accent said "Yes Rich-man, I do know who he is. But I want to know somesomething. Do YOU know where Beethoven is?" This lead to lots of laughs and a little bit of teasing, especially because Elder Richman was so excited about finding where the composers were buried.   It is fun to talk to other missionaries and to hear their own personal experiences as to why they appreciate Germany or Austria and why they felt they were called here to serve a mission.  Many missionaries are touched to hear that both my parents served German speaking missions and that my mom lived in Vienna as a student.  Not only am I beholden to my parents for raising me to love the Lord and raising me in the WAYS of the Lord, but I am beholden to those who have gone before me -- blazed the trail, so to that I can appreciate so many beauties of earthly existence like great classical music, architecture and written words.   I'm so thankful that my ancestors loved and honored the Lord and made huge sacrifices so that they could find the truthfulness of the Gospel and worship in righteous freedom.

I still have lots to get done today so I need to sign off and finish Pday! We had an amazing appointment with our investigator Doris this morning, so we get to spend some evening hours out in the city.  This city is even more stunning at night.

I love you all! I love being on this errand of angels and to help bring truth and happiness to His children here is Austria.   I am humbled and so happy.

Your favorite missionary, :)

Sister Motto
Sister Judd and me street contacting in Vienna 

Preparing for the Primary Program


The work is never done….preaching to those who will listen…at dark…in Vienna

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week 23 -- Do You Know What Is Even Better Than Vienna? MISSIONARY WORK!!!

Hallo Familie und Freunde!

This week, as all the rest, was absolutely fantastic!  Vienna is already treating me so well. :) :) :)  I can't help but compare it to being a Disneyland for grown-ups. This city is MAGICAL!  The beauty of the architecture, the tree lined, cobble-stone streets all intertwined with thousands of people from all walks of life.  There is a sense in the air of deep rooted cultural history that you can't help but appreciatively acknowledge.   Even though Vienna is huge, this large city lends itself to being personal and comfy.   VIenna's history is perceptible in everything -- the flavor of food, grand pedestrian walkways and the peaceful flow of the Danube, impressive museums and cathedrals.  Oh I wish I could transport you all here this second!  I love that I have a Vienna connection with Mom-- living here at the exact same age....and in the same seasons.  How great is that?!  And the music...the MUSIC!!!  I am standing in the same places as my favorite composers....Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss's, Lehar and Schubert!  Talk about a hot bed of musical creativity. WOW!  I am blessed and honored to be here -- and I am happily soaking it ALL in!  

Do you know what is even better than Vienna??? MISSIONARY WORK!!

This week we met with Nicole  and her family. Nicole is a mother of 4 beautiful children, ages 13 years to 18 months. Nicole's husband is not prominent in the family, and therefore is restraining Nicole from being baptized. She is an amazing woman though, who loves the scriptures and praying with her children. This past week we  taught them the story of Nephi building his ship, and we drew pictures to involve the kids and also see their understanding of the story. Cute 5 year old Davin, upon finishing his picture stood in front of everyone and shouted "SIEHT IHR MEIN BIIIILLLLLD!" Everyone look at my picture!! He was quite proud of his sketch, and I was very impressed. He drew Nephi and his entire family, even the pet dog! (Davin REALLY wants a pet dog and often compares himself to Nephi, so I think that explains the picture a little more.) In our lesson, we talked about faith and being obedient, and with our joint-teach Theresa (our GML's wife) we sang Nephi's Courage. This was probably one of my favorite lessons on my mission! This couple are pretty special people, and we are praying that Nicole's husband, Dennis' heart will be softened that Nicole and her daughter Alena and her son Elias can be baptized.

We had an appointment with a former investigator this week, Frau Gosch, who met with missionaries about 7 or 8 years ago. Frau Gosch let us in and we had a very pleasant discussion and talk about the Church. After our lesson I asked her if she had a copy of the Book of Mormon and challenged her to begin reading it. Frau Gosch then went off on a complete rant about how awful the Book of Mormon is, and how no one could get closer to God by reading such a book about war and destruction. I didn't know what to do, and Sister Judd and I were stunned.  This was my first real experience with someone disavowing something so sacred to me right in front of my face.  It was such an awful feeling.  How could she NOT know how beautiful and true the Book of Mormon is?  We closed with a prayer and left, and it took everything I could to not cry. Really, it broke my heart to hear such words about the Book of Mormon, and that this sweet woman and daughter of God did not understand the principles and messages between the stories of the Nephites and the Lamanities.  Missionary work isn't always sunshine and rainbows and baptisms -- living in fairytale is hard work!!  Although we have plenty of hard days and people can say really mean things,  there is so much peace and comfort in knowing that one day people like Frau Gosch WILL understand the Gospel, and accept it in it's fullness.  I know who is leading this Church and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

This week I have come to realize the importance of being a consecrated missionary. This is something that I have learned about from Day 1 on my mission, and will not finish learning until I return home, and even until my spirit leaves my mortal body. In a conversation with Sister Judd, saying that at the end of our missions what could we describe it as in one word, I decided that my mission is the most REFINING experience anyone could have. I know I have brought that up a few times, but each and every day, each and every second, I feel the incredible power of God shaping me to be the best I can. Now, I have also come to realize quickly, that that kind of change doesn't happen unless we are willing to give God our hearts, and often that is much easier said than done. Our WILL and HEART and MIND is the only gift God has given us that He cannot willingly take back. He can take our homes from us, our wealth, our families, and even our very lives. But God cannot and will not ever take our will, because He loves us. He has given us the most beautiful and precious gift of agency, because He trusts us enough as His beloved children to make the correct decisions to return back to Him. How blessed and humbled I feel as a missionary, a full-time representative of Jesus Christ, to take upon myself that responsibility to help God's children REMEMBER the Gospel. As a missionary we are not teaching them the doctrine and fundemental basics of eternity for the first time. We are simply reminding these people of their divine nature. The Gospel rings truth and goodness, and people feel that in their hearts when they openly listen to our message. 

As a missionary, I have come to understand the importance of selflessness and humility. I want to kick myself sometimes thinking of how, in the past, I was so selfish with my time and energy. My mission has taught me the importance of giving back, because God has given us everything, and I am simply "borrowing" these precious gifts of time, talents, and life. I have made resolutions over and over to be better.  President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave a MANIFICENT talk last year titled "Of Regrets and Resolutions". Reading this talk helped me recognize of living in the moment, taking advantage of it, and also of giving it everything one moment at a time. Elder D. Todd Christofferson also gave a talk, "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread." We cannot supply ourselves with a yearly supply of manna, otherwise it will spoil. Yes, natürlich, it is important to plan for the future and make specific and realistic goals for ourselves. But we must nourish, each and every day, our sensitive spirits. Our Spirits are DIVINE! They are literal, beautiful, magnificent creations from Heavenly Parents that are so susceptible to outside influences, that we must constantly feed goodness and light to them. That is why the "primary answers" of prayer, fasting, attending church regularly, reading in the scriptures, is so important. This knowledge and testimony I have always known, but here on my mission I have come to UNDERSTAND. And how grateful I am for that!!

"Denn siehe, wer denn wunsch habt, Gott zu dienen, seid ihr zu dem Werk berufen."  ("Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work")  There is no better motto for a missionary than D&C 4!! Oh how I love those precious, uplifting and godly verses....they are what help me get through the days and nights of rejection and weariness.  "For with God, All things are possible!"

Well...this letter must end for Vienna and His work awaits!

My wonderful friends and family, have a GREAT week! You are in my prayers and thoughts always.  Thank you for being my support team!  I love you all.

Sister Natalie Motto

Horse-love in every city….The Vienna ones are SO COOL!

Appreciating the Viennese pastries:)

Vienna Füssgängerzone right by Stephansdom --Stephansplatz

HELLO Sachertorte!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Week 22 "A Mission Is A Family Affair"

Servus liebe Familie und Freunde!!

This week was wonderful, but a little long because I was sick for about 3 days with a sore throat and a fever.  I hate being sick:(  So you can imagine how hard it was for me to slow down in any way. Tis the sick season! With my companion's recommendation I had to rest a little and I took some medicine and drank lots of water to speed up the healing process. The other sisters have been healthy, which is good, and we are all taking extra precaution to stay healthy.  It's really hard being sick on the mission, I hate the feeling of not being able to go out and work, so I'm grateful that I am now on the mend and on the way back to my healthy self!

This week was stake conference in Vienna, as well as interviews with President Miles!  We were able to have a sleep over for stake conference: the Graz sisters came and stayed in our apartment Saturday night because of the long train ride to Vienna. It was really fun getting to know Sisters Kervinen (from Finland. She is hilarious and is a very good missionary) and Sister Reginer (from San Fransisco, California, we rode the train together to Vienna. She is so sweet and is a great example of expressing true, genuine charity for everyone.) We had 6 sisters crammed into a small apartment -- needless to say it was a little hectic in the morning getting ready for stake conference, but it all worked out. Yeah for some more sunlight! It helps that it is now the end of daylight savings strange that we start a week before you-- that means we are only 7 hours apart, for one week! :)  (Can you believe that we forgot about the extra hour of I woke up at 5:30 instead of 6:30. Naja....OH WELL...Sleep is overrated, right? :)

Wonderful weekend!  President and Sister Miles spoke at our stake conference, and so we were able to be with them for about 2 days. I love when the Miles' come and visit and spend time with us: they have a really busy schedule but I am very grateful for the time they do take to visit each one of us and remind us of their love.  They told us how much they appreciate our optimism, hard work ethic and desire to be the best missionaries we can be.  I. Love.Them!

The big theme for this stake conference was the temple. It was a little hard, because I became homesick for the temple, but the messages shared were beautiful and definitely something I needed to hear. President Souceck, one of the counselors and Dad's former missionary companion, spoke about the importance of remaining pure and chaste so we can worthily enter the Lord's house. I never really understood the importance of this until I was able to go through the temple last February and recieve my endowment. (What a special experience that was! Sometimes I wish I could go do it all over again.) An outpouring of love from the Spirit testified to my heart the great importance for me to one day marry in the temple, to search after that goal of being sealed to my future eternal companion. I have always been amazed the way the Lord teaches me and gives me revelation, because sometimes it is in ways I least expect it.  President Nally in the MTC once said that "A mission experience is the MTC for the rest of your life, as well as the next."  Now I recognize how serving a mission, when served with full purpose of heart, might, mind, and strength, is a blessing for my future family, and I am forever grateful that I have chosen to serve.

This week we had the opportunity to meet with our investigator "Dory", a mother of 6 with her 2 youngest being 1 year old twins, "P and L."  Dory's husband will not allow her to be baptized at this time, and so we are teaching her continually more and more about the Gospel as we wait in faith for her husband's permission. Dory is a woman of solid faith and firm understanding, just as the Book of Mormon describes we should be. She really wants to be baptized so we are praying that her husbands heart will be softened.  She purchased a kindle to download all the standard works, so she can read them wherever she goes. We just gave her a copy of "Jesus der Christus" and are meeting with her on Wednesday. As I entered her home and began talking with her, I felt such an overhwhelming love for Dory, and I could not deny the impression that I have come to Vienna to meet her.

Interviews were fantastic! President Miles is such an inspired man. My interview was actually quite brief, maybe only 5 or 6 minutes, but President Miles challenged me to do something. He said, "Sister Motto, I want you to find out why you are here in Vienna. By doing so, I want you to study the scriptures. I know you do each and every day, but tonight kneel in prayer and plea to the Lord to see what He expects out of your scripture study, and how you can be better." I have always thought I was really good at my scripture study, but I did exactly what President Miles asked. And the answer came! I need to be studying more and utilizing it in my every day proselyting, the words of modern day prophets. Together with the standard works, talks from the Ensign/Liahona and General Conference are JUST AS POWERFUL in every day missionary work.In my studies I have made the goal to read 15 minutes in the Book of Mormon, 15 from the standard works, 15 from Verkünet mein Evangelium!, and 15 from a conference talk.  

In regards to my language and this new Viennese geht gut!  I am having fewer times of misunderstandings and more confident moments of total understanding-- yay yay YAY! :)   German is not the easiest language to comprehend but my love for it grows every day.  Yet another blessing which comes from serving a foreign speaking mission!  I did have a small "oops" when in visiting with a member family who have 6 kids....I encouraged them to be "fruitful" rather than to say how "terribly" important it is to be a good member missionary.....they reminded me kindly of my "obvious" mistake..."Sister Motto...we are fruitful...we have 6 kids!"

In relation to my new resolution in studies, the impression came to me the other day to read a talk from April 2013 conference by President Monson. In there I found a quote that I could not help but weep as I read. It says,

"A mission is a family affair. Though the expanse of continents or oceans may separate,
hearts are as one."

Simpler truth could not have been better stated. I am so grateful for the mountains of support and love I feel each and every day from home. Sometimes I get homesick, mostly because I wish to share my experiences here on the mission with you at home. I wish you were right beside me! This work is too beautiful and wonderful. It was exactly one year ago this week I  wrestled whether or not I should serve. How clearly I remember the soothing peace of the Holy Ghost as I knelt in prayer and begged for an answer. I remember the feelings of fear and inadequacy I felt as I thought about serving a mission, but there was such a sweet spirit as the Spirit testified to me that the Lord doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies The called. This mission truly has been the greatest blessing to me. No kidding, it has been the most difficult thing I have done, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, but there are so many blessings that come when we simply turn ourselves over to the Lord and let Him take care of the rest. I'm simply striving to be a Werkzeuge, a work tool, in His hands, to help Him bring to pass the great and marvelous work of proclaming the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

How grateful I am to be here! I love being a missionary in Austria at this time of this marvelous dispensation!  "Geh immer Vorwärts", and press on until the work of the Lord is finished!

Have a wonderful week!

Sister Natalie Motto
Elder Pugmire, our DL and Me with Sister Woods at our last district meeting in Göppingen

…..On the Blue Danube!
My awesome Göppingen District…miss them! Elders Rodgers, Durrant, Chapman, Garett, Oviatt, Philips, Pugmire, Carlson and Me and Sister Woods

Me with my new companion, Sister Judd!

The magnificent Stephens Dom Cathedral in WIEN