Monday, August 26, 2013

Week 13 -- Lot of "Train-ing" this week!

Hallo Familie und Freunde!!

 This end of this next week brings me to my 3 month mark -- where has time gone?!  I know that I am in the most beautiful country, preaching the everlasting Gospel, being happier than I have ever been and loving every day! And these past 3 months have flown by.....

 District Meeting was this week and was wonderful.  We talked about baptism and confirmation and were each asked by Elder Fletcher, our district leader, to reflect on our own baptisms and the feelings we had that day, and how we can make our investigator's baptisms (when they come) that much more special. I thought of our sweet Ainhoa who is getting baptized on Saturday, and thought of how young she is in contrast to her amount of faith. I remember the day I was baptized, almost twelve years ago in Chicago, in freezing COLD weather, at the Naperville ward building and while Papa was the mission president.  It was New Years Day and I remember going over to the Petersens for soup afterwards. I don't remember many more details pertaining to the actual baptism, but I do remember the moment I was confirmed a member of the Church and recieved the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The rush of warmth I had go from my head down to my toes is one I will never forget. My heart is so full as I reflect upon this memory, and my heart swells even more as I think of Ainhoa and her baptism on Saturday. This sweet girl is so ready, so accepting, and so willing to follow her Savior Jesus Christ. She is the ideal example of childlike faith!! Everyone needs to teach a 10 year old the Gospel, but that's just my opinion:)  I love that I have a little brother who is also 10 and how Ainhoa's faith reminds me of my super tender hearted and sweet and faithful brother Jameson.

Our day trip to Munich was wonderful!! (Natalie had to go to the US embassy in Munich to renew her passport) We got to ride a SUPER nice train on the way to Munich, which got us there in about an hour and a half. The ride was BEAUTIFUL! I am seriously the luckiest Missionarin in the entire world. I have the most beautiful mission in the world!!!!! As we passed rolling hills, open fields, and little villages, I couldn't help but get emotional and feel so grateful to serve in Germany. We met Sisters Smith and Jenson, 2 of the Munich sisters, at the Bahnhof (train station), and the four of us took the S-bahn to the US Consolate. I really hope I get to work in Munich or Vienna one day; the energy and pace of a big city is something totally different from small-town Göppingen, and I would love to experience the contrast and learn how to do missionary work there. Sister Clark couldn't come into the consolate with me, so Sisters Smith and Jenson 'babysat' while I was inside.:)  It was really, really weird to be alone as I waited for my appointment. I guess you could say I felt sort of exposed. (Another thing Natalie and I have in common...I had to go to the Berlin embassy while on my mission to get a new passport -- it's quite the experience)  It's a strange feeling being alone, after you have had someone with you for the past 3 months for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I talked with a cute, young, newlywed American couple that is living in Germany for school, and I told them a little bit about myself as they asked why I was living in Germany. Even a friendly conversation with other people is a great form of missionary work! I was in the embassy for about an hour, and afterward the four of us Sisters did a little bit of street contacting on the way back to the Bahnhof. It was so fun! I love talking to people in a big city -- such a different feel and culture! Our train ride home was about 3.5 hours long(obviously not on the nice ICE) was unique and exhausting day, but we got back into Göppingen safe and sound, and that night finished teaching Ainhoa about the commandments (Word of Wisdom and Chastity) we needed to before her interview Friday.

Friday was Ainhoa's baptismal interview! Elders Chapman and Fletcher came from Ulm, and we met at the Giraldo's for Ainhoa's interview. She LOVES the Elders, especially when they speak a little Spanish with her. As Elder Fletcher conducted the interview in the family room, the rest of us talked with Sister Giraldo in the kitchen, and got to hear her conversion story. Sister Giraldo's testimony of the gift of the Holy Ghost brought tears to my eyes as she expressed her desire for her daughter to have that same gift, and how excited she is she has made the decision to be baptized, in her words 'into this Church, the only true and right Church.'  SIster Giraldo has been less active, but ever since my first Sunday here she as been attending regularly. She is such an amazing woman; I sure love the Giraldos!!! (Oh, and Ainhoa 'passed' the interview with flying colors!)

This week I felt like I was always moving back and forth -- maybe it is because I went on so many trains!! Saturday was Finding Day in Ulm. On the train to Ulm, Sister Clark and I sat next to a cute family headed south  for Urlaub (vacation). One of the little girls in this family, with big blue eyes and red hair, kept staring at me. This little girl, Amanda, is about 4 years old. I complimented her cute pink dress, and we started a conversation. She told me I talked funny, and asked where I was from. I told her that I am from America, and Amanda's darling blue eyes got huge with excitement and said, 'mein Papa ist aus Amerika!' My dad is from America! Her father, noticing that we were talking to his daughter, turned and smiled, and we started a conversation with him. This gentleman, from Louisiana, married a German, started a family, and has lived in Stuttgart for 15 years. He has quite a few friends who are members of the Church, and we had a pleasant conversation with him about our service in Göppingen and in general as missionaries. This gentleman was quite impressed that we were so young, and with the work that we do. He was very friendly, and as our train stopped we said goodbye and wished them a safe trip. It's hard sometimes, knowing that you COULD talk to people about what we believe, seeing as that is our job, but sometimes it is better to keep the conversation simply friendly, and leave room for curiosity. We left with warm handshakes and huge smiles and I thanked him for talking to us and hoped that he could run into more of our "missionaries" sometime soon:) There is no doubt in Sister Clark's or my mind that this gentleman will be more receptive to the Gospel and listening to his friends after our conversation with us.

For Finding Day, Sister Clark and I were assigned to work with a lady from the Ulm branch, and together we did follow-ups, street contacting, and a little "dooring". It was really neat being able to work with a ward member! Missionary work simply isn't possible without the members! (By the way, thanks so much for that talk by Elder Ballard, Mom! Everyone should read it!!) We walked a total of maybe 3 or 4 miles before we met the Elders at the Bahnhof after a few hours to eat lunch. It's always fun being with our district and hearing about the work in each of our individual areas! It's hard on finding days with not lots of success.....none of the people we were assigned to follow up on answered the door, or we got yelled at and told to go away. Yep -- Missionary work is HARD.  That being said, it is ever more important to work even harder, to push through those hard days, and give our best so we can find those who are ready, willing, and prepared to hear the message of the Restored Gospel. I was reminded again that nothing that is ever worth anything great, like our salvation, our eternal happiness, ever easy.

After Finding Day, because we had a few hours, Sister Clark and I went to Heidenheim to meet with Queen and Sarah. We gave a message from Alma 37 and talked about the importance of prayer and the comfort it brings into our lives. Little Aisosa, Sarah's two year old daughter, was VERY excited to read in the Book of Mormon. She would not let the copy we let her hold go, and as we left and took the Book of Mormon with us, Aisosa began to cry and say 'Buch Mormon! Buch Mormon!' So, naturally, we gave Aisosa her very own copy of the Book of Mormon. :)

Yesterday, Sunday, Sister Clark gave a wonderful talk in Sacrament meeting, using the talk you sent to me Mom! Thank you for being inspired to send it in German..that was a huge blessing for both of us this week. We are trying really hard to get our ward to do missionary work, and give them that courage that they need, and the Member Missionary Work talk by Elder Ballard was perfect. The members were so intentive as Sister Clark spoke; I know it was what they needed to hear! And Sister Clark did a great job! :) Her German is getting SO GOOD. I played the organ, so I got out of speaking. Maybe in two weeks when our organists are back from Urlaub I will have to speak...but until then..... :) Being in a small ward has been an eye opener for me because you don't necessarily just serve in ways that you think you are good serve EVERYWHERE because the entire congregation is counting on you -- one day an organist, the next day...who knows.  I'm better understanding that it is not where you serve but how you serve, thank you Mom!

Transfer calls are this Friday; we will have to see how things go!! I feel an approaching 'mountain' coming my way; whatever it is, I know not. Whether or not I will conquer it is a different story: all things are possible in the Lord, and I know He will give me mountains that will help me become the best missionary, friend, sister, daughter, and Natalie and Sister Motto I can be.  

Thank you for all your support and love. I couldn't go about this work without such a fantastic support group. I love you!!!

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Natalie Motto

In Munich with Sisters Clark, me Smith and Jensen

Natalie on her way to Munich to get her passport renewed via the nice ICE fast train…

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