Liebe Familie und Freunde!
Hello from a rainy day in Göppingen, Germany! It's a nice change to have rain and clouds; this past week has been HOT and HUMID. And for those of you who know me really well...you know how I love the rain! :)
This week was a week full of miracles and tender mercies. Last Monday, Sister Clark and I had an eating appointment with a family in our ward. While on our way, we recieved a phone call from Bruder Niedermeier, a man in our ward, saying he had made contact with a lady named Barbara Reik. Uncle Tony, while he was here in Göppingen, taught Barbara, and I guess somehow the connection was made that I am his niece and am serving in Göppingen, and she wanted to get in touch! Sister Clark and I found Barbara's record, which was quite bare, but found that she was contacted by some other missionaries in 2006, but didn't get taught any of the lessons. Bruder Niedermeier gave Sister Clark and I Barbara's number, we called her, and we have an appointment to teach her next week! What a small world....seems to be that wherever I go in the world, I make SOME kind of connection to my Brown family. :) This experience is definitely a blessing, and the handwork of the Lord.
Wednesday I went to my first District Meeting! We traveled an hour to Ulm, where I met our district. Elders Garrett (Provo), Petersen (Salt Lake): Dad you might know his dad....Gordon Petersen?, Kinghorn (Alpine) and Fletcher (Eagle Mountain) make up the rest of our district. They are great missionaries and have all been out for at least a year, except for Elder Garrett, who is a transfer older than myself. Our zone leaders attended our meeting, and we had an amazing discussion on how the Stuttgart Zone can become the "miracle Zone": how can we see miracles come to pass in our zone? For one, FAITH. Two, it's all about perspective. Three, we need to recognize the miracles and tender mercies we are given every day. As a result of this discussion, Sister Clark and I have started the "Wunder Wand", or Miracle Wall, at our apartment. Every day we right on a sticky note a tender mercy or miracle we noticed that day. As we've done this, we have noticed more and more tender mercies and miracles happening to us. An attitude of gratitude is the best way to be a missionary!After district meeting, I was able to eat my first Döner!! It. Was. AMAZING. It's tradition after district meeting, apparently, to get a Döner and Magnum icecream bar. (Good thing we do TONS of walking before and after....) :)
Thursday was probably my favorite day this week. Sister Clark and I had an eating appointment with Schwester Körner, an older woman in our ward with the testimony of a giant. She reminds me a lot of Sister Nelson and Sister Shipp--a wonderful grandmother figure who loves everyone, and who has a sure foundation and faith in her Savior Jesus Christ. After our appointment Sister Clark and I planned a brief presentation about the USA for our FHV activity that night, and then we got to meet with our investigator Destiny. Destiny is from Nigeria and has been living in Germany for a few years for work. He is a very faithful man, who has joined many churches to find the truth. Sister Clark and I had planned to teach him about the prophets, which we did a little bit, but felt prompted to teach him about the importance of recognizing the Spirit and reading the Book of Mormon, and how doing those things will help us overcome trials and hardships in our lives. We talked to him about the analogy of the refiner's fire, and how we go through hard times to help us become better. Destiny usually doesn't talk a lot, but he listens intently. After we told him that analogy and were quiet for a minute, he looked at Sister Clark and I and said, "I know when you're speaking, it's like someone is talking through you." The Spirit was one of the sweetest I've felt here on my mission; in that moment, Sister Clark knew, I knew, and Destiny knew, what we were saying was truth. It was incredible!Our lesson may have initially been planned out, but I can give witness to the importance of teaching by the Spirit!! The Lord knows EXACTLY what that individual needs to hear, and as His representative and vessel, I need to be ready and receptive to what He needs me to say. Even that moment was small and simple, there was a great Spirit. Sister Clark and I are teaching Destiny Thursday, and are challenging him to baptism on July 27. Hope all goes well! We know that if he is ready, which he is, Destiny will make the decision to follow his Savior and be baptized. We can't wait.
Saturday was wonderful! We spent the majority of our day contacting Salach. Door after door was closed on us, and the people on the street didn't want to talk. Many people here think we are Zeuge Jehova's, Jehova's Witnesses. It's really frustrating because we know that our message is so important and we don't like how we have that perception of being Jehova's, but we keep teaching and "klingeling" and contacting to find that ONE individual readý to hear the Gospel. Salach is a pretty little dorf about 20 minutes away from Göppingen. After a few hours, hungry and tired, Sister Clark and I went to the Bahnhof to catch our train....which didn't exist. Somehow we messed up our times and there wasn't a train going back to Göppingen that day! Tired, stressed, hungry, frustrated, we asked ourselvses "why are we here?" At district meeting we made it the goal to ask oursevles that question every time something got hard or something didn't go our way. Just as Sister Clark and I asked eachother that, a man came walking across the street. Jokingly Sister Clark said, "maybe this man needs our Book of Mormon." I thought he would walk right by, to be honest. But he didn't! We asked him if he'd like a pass along card, and asked him if he believed in Christ. He said yes, and asked us which church we were from, because we didn't look like Jehova's (thank goodness for the nametags!). We told him we were Mormon, and he was suddenly very interested. Sister Clark shared her testimony of the Book of Mormon, how it's another testament of Jesus Christ, about his coming to the America's. We asked him if he wanted to read it, he said yes, and in our excitement we walked/skipped away and forgot to get his contact information. BUT OH WELL! We gave away a Book of Mormon!! :) This experience was yet another miracle and testimony that the Lord has PERFECT timing. His timing is PERFECT. When we are sad, downtrodden, stressed, over the little things in life, there is no need to be! The Lord will bless us and give us peace and comfort when we turn to Him, are obedient and faithful, and as we do all He asks He will grant unto us the desires of our hearts...all in His time.
This week, Saturday, I will have been on my mission for a month! So crazy!! The days go by weeks and the weeks by days....nothing more true than that.
Thanks Mom for the packages!! The homesickness is beginning to fade, and I'm realizing it's because I'm trying really hard to WORK. Working brings the Spirit and just as President Benson says that as you work and turn yourself over to the Lord "there will be no homesickness, worrying about families, for all time and efforts are dedicated to the Lord." There is no room for selfishness in missionary work! I've learned that when I'm selfish, and thoughts are turned onto me, that I don't have the Spirit in the way I want to as a missionary, and I'm not receptive to revelation and promptings. So I need to be selfLESS. It's sometimes hard, but it's shaping me and molding me to be a better person. I LOVE MISSIONARY WORK!!!
Keep writing letters!! (dearelder.com OR snail mail are great) I love hearing from you all!
Until next week,
Natalie and her companion, Sis Clark, eating her first gyro (a necessary missionary staple!) in Ulm after district meeting.