Liebe Familie und Freunde,
What a wonderful week has past! I realize I say that every week...but it's true...being a missionary is wonderful!
Last week, we were able to have zone training and zone conference in the same week, one Tuesday, one Friday. Kind of felt like I was living in Stuttgart all week because we were there so much! I have developed a love for Stuttgart though, and enjoy the time we have to be there. At zone training, we talked a lot about the Christlike attributes as found in Preach My Gospel. (I LOVE Preach My Gospel! It is a wonderful tool and I am so grateful for it.) We focused on knowledge, which is interesting, because I have never really thought 'Knowledge' to be considered a Christlike attribute. I then stumbled upon a quote by Elder Russell M Nelson that says 'The glory of God, indeed, is intelligence.' We must strive and learn all we can in this life so that we can more strive to be like our Father in Heaven! I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for all that I have learned while here on the mission.
Wednesday and Thursday we had Austausch (exchange) again! Because of the new calling the church has made for Sister Training Leaders in each zone, we have the opportunity to go on exchanges each transfer -- something different from what you did, Mom! (We also never got emails, iPads, instant pictures either!) This week, Sister Clark went to Pforzheim to work with Sister Holman, and I got to lead the exchange here in Göppingen with Sister Ackerman. I was so nervous! Sister Ackerman was trained here in Göppingen as well, so it was nice to have that extra 'security blanket' with Sister Ackerman knowing the area if we were to get lost (which we didn't up until the last few minutes finding our way to the Eislingen Hauptbahnhof.) Sister Ackerman and I had the opportunity to meet with a few older women in our branch, a less active, and did some follow-ups in nearby Eislingen. I love each opportunity on exchanges, because I learn so much. It's always weird working with another missionary who is not your companion, but I really enjoyed working with Sister Ackerman because she is such a hard working missionary. She has a lot of opinions and isn't afraid to say them, but she is a great example of someone with a firm conviction for the Gospel and rock solid testimony of Jesus Christ and the restored gospel. She has a great command of German as well, so it was great working with her and being able to work with someone outside of Sister Clark with my language skills. Even after all that, it was great being able to be reunited with Sister Clark. I am so grateful that we have a strong friendship and bond and that we work really well together: I will be sad the day I have to get a new companion!
Zone Conference was fantastic! At Zone Conference we were able to hear from President and Sister Miles, as well as our Stake President here in Stuttgart, President Thomas Schneider. President Schneider has come to Göppingen and spoken in Sacrament meeting a few times, and I have had the opportunity to meet him and talk with him, but in German. It was a little odd to hear him speak in English at zone conference! He gave wonderful feedback to us as missionaries in his stake and how we work, and how we can better work with the members. He said that as missionaries, we strive to develop and have the qualities of faith, charity, love, etc, in doing missionary work. The members have those traits as well! The one trait we have, that they don't, and that we need to help the members develop, is courage. Courage to invite their friends to church, courage to invite the missionaries over with their friends, courage to share the gospel. It was an interesting but enlightening perspective, and the frustrations we have had in the past working with our members has now changed to, 'what can we do to help them have courage?' I am so grateful for the church leaders here in Germany. Although different from home, and oftentimes I find myself heartsick for my homeward and stake, I am forever grateful to be in the service of these wonderful German people and the members here.
At the close of zone conference we had a testimony meeting, where all the missioniaries who had not previously attended a zone conference had the opportunity to share their testimonies. It was great! I was able to share my testimony the night (two months ago exactly!) I arrived in Munich, and I was grateful for the chance to share it again. I can already feel a growth within myself!! It was also a neat experience to share my testimony with my trainer there, my wonderful and sweet companion Sister Clark. She has become one of my dearest friends, and as this transfer comes to an end I am saddened to think she may be leaving. At least we have two weeks left together; make every moment count, gel? President and Sister Miles both shared testimonies and thoughts on the work here in Stuttgart. We LOVE the Miles, and are so incredibly grateful for their service to us. They are a stellar example of missionary work, and living Christlike attributes. I hope to be like them one day.
Saturday we were able to teach Ainhoa again! This sweet little girl is progressing so well. Her childlike faith and developing testimony is something to be envied; she is one of God's prepared to hear the message of the Truth and she cannot wait to be baptized! Yesterday during Sacrament Meeting Sister Clark and I sat with her, and saw her write in her journal, 'Am 31 August wird ich taufen lassen! Ich bin so begeistert.' (Translation: On the 31st of August, I will be baptized, I am so excited!) Her baptism will be Saturday August 31. We can't wait!
We have not been able to get a hold of Destiny for a while. We have been praying that we will be able to meet to help him continue progressing, but it's been difficult. Satan works the hardest when he knows good things are about to happen and I know that Destiny is being challenged and needs to be reminded that Heavenly Father loves him and that he can overcome whatever road blocks are in the way of finding eternal happiness through the first step of baptism. I know prayers in his behalf would be a great blessing and example of faith as he progresses towards his ultimate goal of baptism and confirmation.
Queen is doing well. She has started reading the Book of Mormon, and we are hopeful to make the 2 hour trainride to Heidenheim on Wednesday to teach her. We also have a potential investigator named Abi, who is also from Nigeria. (We have joked about that if we keep teaching the way we are, they will need to make a Nigerian branch for Göppingen!) He met with the elders in Ellwangen, who are in our district, and because he lives in our area Ellwangen referred him to us. We are so excited to teach Abi; from what we hear he is 'hungering and thirsting' after the truth and is yearning to learn more.
Hopefully we can meet with Barbara and Andreas this week! Barbara has a lot to do, as she is getting ready to put on some kind of play, but we are praying that the next time we teach her, Andreas can be there. Sister Clark and I still cannot deny the fact that we felt a very strong spirit upon meeting Andreas; we know that there is something wonderful in store, and that perhaps it is his time to accept the Gospel. All we can do is pray, fast, and follow the guidance of the Spirit in what to teach him and Barbara so that they will be receptive and accepting of the Gospel.
All in all, it was a great week. For some reason I got a little bit homesick, but because I recognize that it's AUGUST and that school is almost starting!! Didn't school just get out? :) (Natalie is one who has always LOVED school and would start counting down in August when it would start.) Give this next school year all you've got! Work the hardest you ever have. It'll pay off! :) Time has gone by very fast!
Keep the flame of your faith burning, my wonderful family and friends!! This Gospel brings so much happiness, who wouldn't want to share it? Although I have hit lows and highs and have been challenged beyond my beliefs here on the mission, it is safe to say that I have never been happier. This work is sacred and special, it is glorious and great and it is His work. I am grateful to be able to share the truthfulness of the Gospel to Heavenly Father's children in Germany at this time!!!
Until next week!!
All my love,
Sister Natalie Motto