Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Rain is great -- but hail is HUGE…bring it on!"

Hallo my wunderbare Familie und Freunde!!

What a wonderful and exciting week these past 10 days were!! It was kind of hard not emailing on Monday, but because of many appointments we were able to change our Pday to today, Wednesday.

My heart is so full and bursting with love, appreciation and gratitude for my Savior and His Gospel!   I have seen so many tender mercies and miracles from the Lord this week. First off, last Monday Sister Clark and I were able to meet with our investigator Barbara again, and following we were able to meet her son, Andreas, and his family. Andreas and Barbara have a very close connection with my Uncle Tony, and what a blessing it has been to live here in Göppingen and make that connection. Upon meeting Andreas, his wife Andrea, and 2 year old son Paul, Sister Clark and I couldn't help but both have a very strong feeling. I can't really describe that feeling, but all I can say is that the power of the Holy Ghost as a missionary is crucial in the work. We both have a good, positive, warm feeling about Andreas; what that entails we yet have to find out, but we invited Andreas and his family to our next meeting with Barbara sometime next week. He happily accepted and is excited to meet.

This week, Sister Clark and I had EIGHT lessons!!! EIGHT!!!!!!!! :) Truly a miracle!! I know eight doesn't sound like a lot (ah South American missions..) , but coming from an area where 1 or 2 lessons a week is really good...this surely was a blessing from the Lord. Every day of the week we had a lesson with either a new convert, less active, investigator, or member family. Four of those eight lessons were less active lessons--something that Sister Clark and I as a companionship are focusing on. We know that is through the prayers of our members, you at home, and our faith as a companionship that is bringing these appointments to pass.

Funny enough, most of our appointments this week were spent trying to dry off! This past week was WET WET WET here in Southwest Germany. It has been very warm and humid, and the rain makes it even more humid, but I haven't experienced rain like this in a long time!! On the way to one of our less active lessons, Sister Clark and I were caught in hurricane-worthy winds and rain, and upon getting on the bus we were wringing out our hair and clothes in an attempt to get dried off. Everywhere we have gone the past 4-5 days it has rained (as I write I look out on some dark clouds coming our way). But oh well!! As you very well know I LOVE the rain and thunderstorms; the only real irritation is my wet shoes and socks at the end of the day. Bring it on!

Sunday Sister Clark and I had an experience that really strengthened my testimony of 1) listening to the Spirit, and 2) being prepared.  It had been a really cloudy, rainy day, and at 6:00 we headed off to our weekly appointment with Schwester Böhm, an amazing older woman in our ward who can no longer attend church because of health problems. As we were leaving the apartment, we noticed the dark clouds headed our way. Because our appointment is in walking distance, we started our trek to beat the storm, but with not forgetting after our prayer feeling prompted to grab our umbrellas.

As we walked through the Füßgängerzone, we noticed the clouds getting darker, a little bit of lightening, and the clouds then suddenly turning green. Childhood memories came back quite quickly, remembering the time when I was about 10 as we drove to Chicago and experienced tornadoes in Nebraska. Sister Clark and I picked up the pace, and as it started to get really windy and rain we got out our umbrellas. We reached the bottom of the very big hill where Schwester Böhm lives at the top, when I started to feel unsafe. There is no cover or shelter of overhangs going up this hill. I turned around to see Sister Clark struggling to open up her umbrella, and I said 'I'm not feeling safe....are you?' Sister Clark said that she, too, felt uneasy. Within about 5 seconds we started to hear clinking noises all around us, and initially we thought people were throwing things at us. Another five seconds passed, and we recognized we weren't getting thrown at, but that tremendously large size hail began to fall from the sky. Sister Clark looked at me and yelled 'RUN!!', and we sprinted up the hill. Every street we looked for an apartment to get cover from, an overhang, a store to run into, but there was absolutely nothing!!  Everything was closed because it was Sunday evening. It looked like someone had taken a giant bucket with millions of golfballs and poured it from the sky. With Sister Clark's umbrella still not open (it had popped out backwords from the wind, kind of like in Mary Poppins?), I stayed in front of her, kept yelling to keep running. The hail was coming down incredibly hard; I haven't been this scared in a long, long time. I looked over my shoulder at one point to see how far behind me Sister Clark was (thankfully just a few feet), with her umbrella still not functioning, and I looked to see the hail falling around her, but not over her!  Sister Clark finally got her umbrella open, and we continued our run up the hill.

Angels were certainly with us that Sunday evening. We made it to the top to Sister Böhm's apartment, where we found shelter in the overhang. We could have paused to klingel (doorbell) someone to let us in, but many apartments don't have an overhang, and with the hail coming down as hard and furious as it was, we could have been injured had we stopped running. The hill we ran up was a long, steep hill, but we were able to run the entire thing at a full sprint. Sure, call it adrenaline. Sure, thank our morning work outs that we were 'in shape enough' to run it. But I am certain that angels carried us up that hill. Had our apartment been a minute away we would have turned back, but the closest and safest place to seek shelter was Sister Böhm's. I am grateful that we obeyed the prompting to bring umbrellas, rather than ignore it and think we could 'outwalk the storm' or, if it did rain, to just get a little wet. Because we had umbrellas, we were protected. Only one piece of hail hit my umbrella, and bounced off---same with Sister Clark. Call it coincidence that hail didn't rip through the thin umbrella material. Whatever you wish to call this experience, I know that Heavenly Father is watching out for His missionaries and I know that the power of prayer, and faith, when on the Lord's errand, brings safety, protection, and guidance.

Yesterday, we met with Monika Buchholz, a less active in our ward who was baptized by Uncle Tony exactly 20 years ago!! I was a little bit nervous meeting Monika initially, but within a few minutes of being let in and talking with her, things warmed up and we had a wonderful get-to-know-you conversation. Monika showed me pictures of Uncle Tony and his companion Elder DeLaMare from 20 years ago---hahaha...Cute, Uncle Tony!! :)   As the conversation went on, it lead to more Gospel related subjects, such as Monika's baptism 20 years ago and the importance of living with faith and belief in Jesus Christ. Sister Clark and I were able to each share our testimony on faith, and we shared John 3:16. The Spirit was very strong in that room; although Monika has not been active for about 18 years, and has had a lot of hardship in her life since joining the church, it is with a smile I express that her testimony is just as strong as it was when she was first baptized. She knows the Church is true. She doesn't come to church, and for reasons we are not exactly sure. But, Monika did express a desire to start coming back, she just doesn't know how or when. Sister Clark and I have another appointment with her next week. Maybe, Mom, as a family (just as a family, with Uncle Tony) to pray for her? Join us in prayer this week as we try to figure out what to teach Monika to help rekindle, build, and strengthen her already very strong testimony. She has a great love for Uncle Tony and Elder DeLaMare and will never forget the wonderful experience she had with them.

This week we also have a new investigator, 10 year old Ainoa (eye-no-ah: kind of like 'I know a person....)! Her mother is a less active who has began to come back to church, and her brother Pierro, 16, is a strong, active member of the Church. Friday night Sister Clark and I felt prompted to stop by and say hello to the Giraldo's. We took a conference talk that we like and some brownies. Sister Giraldo is a really sweet lady, from Peru, who found a good job opportunity here in Germany after a sad divorce. Ainoa was away with some friends, so we didn't get to talk to her. Sister Giraldo expressed to us, as we talked for a little while, that she wants her daughter to be baptized. She wants Ainoa to have a testimony and to have the happiness that she has since coming back to Church and regaining her faith and testimony. Monday we had our appointment (FHE activity) with the Giraldo's. We talked about the Book of Mormon, and gave Ainoa her very own copy. We wrote our testimonies inside (we even made her a cute little bookmark) and shared our testimonies verbally about Joseph Smith, the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon. Cute little Ainoa was very excited to begin her homework for this week to read 1 ´Nephi. Our next lesson is Monday evening: we cannot wait!!

Thank you to all my friends and family for your support, prayers, and love. I feel it everyday. Missionary work is the hardest thing I have ever done, but as I climb this mountain, I have felt myself get stronger. I am a missionary! I have a deeper understanding of this Gospel than I have ever felt before in my life. I am so grateful for this work. And as much as I miss you....I don't ever want to come home!! :) I want to be a missionary for the rest of my life! And i only have 16 months left. Each day I recognize more and more to seize the moment, and cherish every second I have here in the full-time service of my Lord and God.

I love you all!! Do me a favor and read Mormon 9, Ether 12:6, and read 'Mountains to Climb' by President Eyring. These three readings gave me a whole new outlook on things, and have blessed my life immensely!

Can't wait to write you Monday!

Liebe Grüße,
Your favorite missionary in Germany

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto
Natalie and her companion found a Lindt Chocolate factory outlet in Geislingen…SCORE!!!! 

"My "look" on one of the dryer days this week"

"Rain doesn't scare me!"

"Uh oh Sister Motto….we missed our train"

 What Natalie does a lot….ride trains and wait for them at the "bahnhof"

In one of her favorite little villages…Geislingen, Germany

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