Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 18 "A wonderful week of miracles! The Lord loves His Missionaries!"

Liebe Familie und Freunde,

Hello from the land of Oktoberfest!  The holiday is in full swing here in Stuttgart Zone, and things sure are getting a little crazy!....It reminds me of...the Utah State Fair, Christmas shopping, tail-gating parties and Halloween rolled up into one massive, unruly, crazy, and yep...yummy event.  Hello gigantic Bretzlen (very large and delicious pretzel bread) and Bratwursts galore!

This week went so fast!  We were so busy the entire time and all of a sudden it was Monday again!  So for last weeks PDay as a district we climbed the MUNSTER, the tallest church in the entire world. We had gorgeous weather that day, which ended up being a huge tender mercy. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Alps!  We were able to see the majority of Baden-Würtemmburg, as well as a good deal of Bayern. Germany is so beautiful and the scenery was breathtaking! One day Eltern, I look forward climbing it with you!  All 768 steps!

Last week I also had the opportunity to go on Austausch (sister exchange or split)  to Lahr, Germany, a darling dorf just outside of Offenburg, near the border of France. Lahr is right smack in the middle of the Schwarzwald: it is absolutely breathtaking there. I went on Austausch with Sister Jencks again, who was in Stuttgart with Sister Green. The Sister Training Leaders in Lahr cover Stuttgart Zone and Freiburg Zone, because we have only 4 sisters areas between the two.  After District Meeting in Ulm, we rode on the train for an hour to Stuttgart, and then up to Karlsruhe in the Frankfurt Mission....well, um...oops.....We went outside of the mission!!!  Just representing you MOM!!! :)   No worries, it was with permission, because Karlsruhe is the fastest and easiest way for the sisters in Stuttgart to tausch with Freiburg. The only time I had to get a picture was one of the Bahnhof sign: I said hi to your ol' mission for you!

Austausch was a huge learning experience for me. Sister Jencks and I had the goal to find 15 potentials Wednesday, and so all day long we doored and contacted. Lahr just opened this transfer, so Sister Jencks and her companion Sister Drury (who not only tausched with Sister Woods, but also was her trainer!) are starting completely spanking fresh in that area. They already have a few investigators, and we had the opportunity to meet all of them.  Sister Jencks was really good at encouraging me and complimenting me on my German. Sister Jencks showed me how being brave, bold, and friendly are the keys of contacting: don't be aggressive, but you have an important message to share, and so share it with a smile! :)   We were able to reach our goal with finding potentials, and out of it Lahr has a few new investigators!   We may or may not have ALMOST gone into the France Lyon Mission on the way to an appointment, but that's because we got on the wrong bus. Thankfully we got off the bus before we crossed the border into France. Phew!! (So is that 2 mission boundary breaches in the same week?)  It was really neat to work with Sister Jencks again (we tausched in my first transfer together) and to see how each other has grown and changed, and how we have become better missionaries than before.  And it was kind of a plus that I was in one of the most beautiful areas in our mission. (I'm so sorry Mom....I left my camera in Göppingen!!!!!!!! :( )

Going on Austausch was really beneficial for both Sister Woods and me. We learned a LOT and how we can help Göppingen grow. On Friday we went back to Schwäbisch Gmünd...we got a text from the Edelmann's granddaughter (and Julee from Utah's relative) saying she wanted to meet.  Yay!!!  We went Friday afternoon and met her and her brother. She is wonderful and DARLING.  (She added me on Facebook....can you take care of that for me Mom? Danke.)  She's 24, and is a student in Innsbrook. What was planned to be only a 45 minute meeting ended up being 2 hours long! We talked to them about the Book of Mormon, and both of them were very, very interessted. They asked us questions about the Restoration, and what makes our church different. That's when we introduced the Book of Mormon more fully. As we talked about Joseph Smith, she kept saying "how beautiful!". The Spirit was so tenderly sweet and warm, and we gave both them a copy to begin reading. We exchanged numbers so we can keep in touch with her as she goes back to Innsbrook to study, and also her address so she can meet with the sisters there in Brixen. We will be going back next week to meet with him and his mother.

We had our first Ausstellung (street display) on Saturday! It was a great success!!! Our whole district was there, and we had about 7 members show up. We were able to have our elders do splits with our GML, and Sister Woods and I would do splits with the Jungen Damen (young women) and older women that came. We found 10 potentials that day, gave away 7 Bücher Mormons, and out of those 10 potentials we have 3 new investigators!! One of them, Herr Ilmi, from Italy, came to church yesterday. He only stayed for a short while because he had to go to work, but he said he felt so good inside that he wanted to come back again next week. We invited him to General Conference, as well as his son, and gave him an Italian Book of Mormon. We have an appointment with Herr Ilmi this week. Our other 2 investigators are 2 very nice gentleman from Iraq, living here in Deustchland as refugees because of their Christian faith. They approached us at the Ausstellung, noticing a picture of the Savior and with tears said "Jesus Christus." Sister Hofer (a lady in our ward) and myself talked with these men, and they asked when they could come to a worship service. We got their information and told them we could have an appointment and give them both an Arabic Book of Mormon this week. We meet this Wednesday!

After our Ausstellung, we made a quick trip to Geislingen to take brownies to a less active who has been sick. We had to wait for about 20 minutes for our bus, when a cute lady came up to us and asked us if we were by chance going to Wiesensteig: about 3 stops after ours. As we replied, we began talking with her, and she asked us how we had such good German. Explaining that we were the missionaries, this lady, R, excitedly exclaimed that she and her husband are familiar with our faith and have been impressed with our people and religion. The four of us got on the bus together, and for 40 minutes (missing our bus stop by one, but this time stayed in mission boundaries :) ) we taught R and her husband about the Gospel. We hurriedly exchanged information as we exited, and went to our appointment. Our appointment with Sister M and her children was wonderful, and we were able to set up another lesson for next week. Sister M can then be progressing, and her 2 children who are not baptized will become our new investigators.

The story doesn't end there!

When we got off the bus, back at the Bahnhof to go back to Göppingen, we heard a squeal from behind us. It was R!!!!  She waited for us so that she could talk to us again.  Can you believe that?   She ran over to us and embraced us, telling us she and her husband could not stop talking about how impressed they were with two young women, who have left everything they love and hold dear at home, to come and talk to stubborn German people about Christ! R and her husband Igor offered us a ride home to Göppingen (In the opposite direction they needed to go!) so we could talk more. We got to talk with Herr and Frau B for another 30 minutes and answer their questions about the Church. When R dropped us off at the Bahnhof in Göppingen, she gave both Sister Woods and I a great big hug and said "Sisters, I know we will meet again. This relationship and friendship was meant to happen!" And it definitely was. I know we were supposed to meet the B's and introduce, in more fullness, the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them. We called our district leader, and hopefully we have permission soon to begin teaching them before handing them off to the Ulm elders.  Just so that you know ----Miracles happen!!!

Another miracle: We finally got a hold of D. We will be meeting with him on Wednesday again (first meeting since his challenge to baptism in August), and hopefully can figure out what is going on. Please keep him, as well as our other new investigators, in your prayers! I have felt and seen the power of prayer in my life this past week: the Lord truly loves us and is there to support us in absolutely everything we do.

This week was so exhausting, but so full of miracles and the Spirit. I am so grateful to be where I am, and I can see the work of Göppingen pressing forward. There are many miracles and much success to be brought forth: so stay tuned!!

Have a wonderful week my loved ones! Bis nächste Woche, gel?

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Natalie Motto

At the tallest cathedral in the world…the Muster in Ulm

Street Display with the Göppingen Ward

Me and Sister Woods in front of the Muster

District Göppingen getting our "muster" to climb up the Muster!
I made Swiss "Rösti"!

Doesn't matter that we are on opposite teams…we love each other anyway:)

At the top of the Munster Cathedral in Ulm (Tallest cathedral in the world)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 17 "Am I really in Germany -- Pinch me"

Hallo Familie und Freunde!!

Here in Göppingen GERMANY the weather is still welcoming and warm, but with a cool breeze and a slight bite-- especially in the morning, we are soon approaching real autumn. The colors are changing and our surrounding area is just spectacular!! Seriously, pinch me. 

This week in terms of missionary work was AMAZING! We saw so many miracles and tender mercies and blessings come to pass. We were on our toes and go-go-go! :-)

We had our first meeting with Barbara in a long time.  Yay!!!  She has been really busy with work, and it was a tender mercy she even had time to meet. We had a great conversation, and gave a lesson on Enos 1:1-8.  The Spirit flooded the room, and it was beautiful to witness Barbara recognize it. There is so much power in talking about prayer and faith, especially when talking about the testimony of the Holy Ghost revealing to us simple truths.  We are slowly and surely working with Barbara, and she is making progress!  It's all about finding what her concerns are, and answering that perhaps ONE critical question that is causing her to hold back from fully and whole-heartedly accepting the Gospel.

This week, we were also able to begin contacting our wonderful referrals from Julee!!  Our district finding day got canceled, but we weren't going to let that defer us from what we knew needed to be done!  So we decided to go to Schwäbish Gmund anyway and contact Julee's relatives. (We are a very determined little pair of sister missionaries!)  The sooner the better, right?!  We had to take a bus pretty early in the morning to get to Schwäbisch Gmund, because the bus schedule doesn't go very often from Göppingen. Driving through the hills in the morning gave me another "Am I really in Germany-PINCH-ME?" moment.   This region of Germany is so unique, and just breathtaking. We made it to Schwäbisch Gmund one hour later, and set off on our trek!  We did what missionaries do best .........Walked!!!   About 45 minutes of cobblestone and puddle jumping, we found the street  where the Wamslers and Edelmann's live.   We contacted Herr und Frau Edelmann, the parents of Susi Wamsler (who was not home at the time).    As cute Frau Edelmann answered the door, we were lightening fast to make the connection of who we were, that we knew Julee and Heidi!!   Frau Edelmann said "Heidi? You know Heidi? From America?" and very excitedly let us in! This was my first time being let in! Herr und Frau Edelmann were very, very sweet. They are about 80 years old and live in a home that's over 100 years old!    We talked about their family, and how everyone is related to one another, and the history of Schwäbisch Gmund. Can you believe that?  Herr Edelmann told us some really neat stories about D-day, what it was like during WWII there in Schwäbisch Gmund, and what it was like having that area controlled by the US Soldiers.  We were in awe and amazement.  Best history lesson I've heard....and I understood it all....for the most part.  His accent is pretty thick Schwäbish.   After about 20 minutes, Frau Edelmann offered to make us lunch, because we had come so far to say hello. We had spaghetti with homemade (from her personal garden, I must clarify ;- ) tomato "soße" and salad. It was delicious, and so very kind of Frau Edelmann to make it for us. We even had homemade lebkuchen for dessert! Tis the season...well not quite, but I'm glad nonetheless because it tasted delish!  

The subject soon came up about our work as missionaries. We told Herr and Frau Edelmann about us and exactly what we do, and shared our testimonies about what a blessing the Gospel has been in our lives. The Spirit was present, as we gave our testimonies. We had a lesson planned out, but for some reason it did not feel right to share at that moment.   Following our meeting with the Edelmann's, Sister Woods and I talked about it, and we both feel that we need to wait until we can meet with the Edelmann's again (in 2 weeks!), so we can meet with their daughter as well, to share our message.

Sister Woods is such a great companion! I love her so much. She is so full of energy and brings a great spunk from big-city life in Vienna to little-town Göppingen. We did some good-old streeting the other day, and talked to so many people! It was a blast! We talked with "Herr Athiest" about evolution, "Herr Muslim" who believes in the Bible and wanted to read the Book of Mormon, and then a group of teenage girls who thought we looked super cute in our skirts! These girls, 15 years old about, asked us why we always look so nicely dressed, and why we had "süß" (sweet) nametags. We explained to them we were the Mormon missionaries, and they got really excited that we were Mormons. They asked us lots of questions, and we were able to talk with them and clarify those many, silly misconceptions about our religion (one of my favorite parts of talking with people, by the way). They loved the fact we were from America, and wanted to speak English with us, so we had some fun and talked with them for about 10 minutes in English. When these girls asked what exactly our beliefs were, we gave them a 3 minute version of the most fundamental, important truths of our Church, that namely: God is our loving Father in Heaven. Because He loves us, He sent His Son to die for us, so that we can repent and return to live with Him. We know this because of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and because of him we have the restored Church, that was on the Earth when Christ was. We gave these girls each a card to look on, and gave them our telephone numbers.  Funnest day of contacting yet!  I LOVE preaching the Gospel!

We have also begun teaching 7 year old Jakob Kindermann, a young boy in our ward, the missionary lessons before his baptism in October. We LOVE the Kindermann family: they are excellent member missionaries and do a lot for us and for missionary work. Bruder Kindermann is also our go-to guy when it comes to needing things fixed or done in the apartment, or to give us a ride to an appointment if we get stranded 3 Dorfs over from our planned destination---OOPS....(That's what you get when you have a blonde, still-should-be-golden taking over an area.......;-)

This week I've been studying in Mosiah 4, and at the end of the speech that King Benjamin gives, about "watch yourselves" in verse 30. I've cross-referenced this topic with the Christlike attribute of virtue as found in Preach My Gospel. Virtue is truly priceless, and is worth far more than rubies (Proverbs 31:10). It is so important that we do guard ourselves in our thoughts and our deeds, from the dark and twisted ways of the adversary. Being on a mission, and being in the world, I have seen a lot of things. I've seen things that make me truly sad, upset, and ever more eager to fight against Satan's attacks on light. This world is so evil, and my fervor and desire to be more diligent as a missionary grows each day. This work is not easy, because salvation isn't easy. Salvation does not come cheap. Because of our Savior, who paid the ultimate price of the Atonement, we can repent, renew our commitment to do better, and move on. I am so grateful for this Gospel, and to be the Lord's missionary. Geh immer vorwärts! Das Evangelium is wahr!

Hiking the tallest cathedral in Europe today -- the MUNSTER for District Pday! So excited!  I'll send lots of pictures :) We are also tausching with the Sister Training Leaders in LAHR, near Freiburg. I'm headed down south while Sister Woods takes over Göppingen. I'm so excited!! (We have to cross into Frankfurt mission a little to make our train connection, though. That will be interesting!  I will have to let Elder Motto know:))  Many, many pictures to come next week.

I love you all!! My prayers and thoughts are always with you. Find someone to serve today!

Liebe grüße, Much love always...

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Sister Woods and Sister Djentar (a member from our branch)

It's what for lunch!

Mitbelehrung lesson with Sister Djentar!

Me with little Mia Fingerle from our branch

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 16….Stuck on the S-bahn and Service and All Horses Go to Heaven

Servus liebe Familie und Freunde!

Hello from wet, rainy, chilly Göppingen-- fall weather is finally here!

This week was great! I am still exuberant and blessed to be a missionary!  Every morning I get the butterflies reminding myself that I'm a missionary in the most beautiful land in the world, Germany!  Sister Woods and I get along so well and we are already in sync.   Although we have a different dynamic than Sister Clark and I did, we compliment each other really well and it's been a great experience learning to work with others, and forging these new friendships that will last forever! Sister Woods is fantastic and I love her so much!

This transfer has been a little different than my past two. This month in our distrit we got another set of Elders in Ellwangen (about an hour away from Göppingen and in a beautiful region...also about 20 minutes from Dinkelsbühl..a charming little town which my parents like to visit).   We also got the Waiblingen (just north east of Stuttgart)  branch into our area: we now have 8 elders and 2 sisters in our district. 10 missionaries!  And that many more missionaries to contact many more investigators!   We now go to Waiblingen for district meeting.  Waiblingen is beautiful, has a great ward, and I'm excited for this change. (Except for maybe the fact that there is a horse slaughter factory right across the street from where the elders live, and right next to the church. You can imagine my, well, disappointment and disgust.) To which my loving and dutiful district leader said, "Don't worry Sister Motto…I'm sure all horses go to heaven" :)

Last week, on the way to our first district meeting in Waiblingen, we traveled with the Ulm elders to share a 4-man body ticket. [A more economic way to travel for missionaries is to "use" buddy passes when possible]  As we were all traveling together on the S-bahn to Waiblingen Hauptbahnhof, we came to an abrupt halt at an unplanned stop on Nürnbergerstraße, 8 or 9 stops away from our planned destination. Some individuals on the S-bahn tried to exit, but the doors were stuck, and wouldn't open. Many people were confused and began to be frustrated that the S-bahn wasn't going. To be honest, our group of 4 missionaries was also initally a little upset and stressed, because we were going to be late for district meeting. After about 5 minutes, a DeustcheBahn worker came and told everyone to get of the S-bahn. There had been an accident: an individual had been killed, and was hit by the S-Bahn. Immediately this rush of a heavy weight settled in my heart, and immediately was sobered by what had just happened. I knew I wasn't the only one who felt this way, as the Elders and ourselves moved to the side. We were told to wait until the polizei arrived, and then we could leave. Many people were, as you imagine, very upset and saddned, and in shock, at what had just happened. As we umsteiged (disembarked) the train and tried to take another mode of transportion to get to Waiblingen, I stood next to a lady who was very distraught. She expressed to me her sadness over what happened to this gentleman who had been killed, and how awful it was that he had died. I expressed my sadness to her as well, but then was able to share my testimony of the Plan of Salvation and the fact that we will live again. I don't know what happened to that woman, but I am grateful for the opportunity I had to share my testimony and share a small light and joy that this Gospel brings. It took us 2.5 hours to take a 15 minute route to get to district meeting, but we were able to finally make it and get everything done we needed to that day.

Saturday the missionaries in our zone had the opportunity to attend the adult session of Stuttgart Stake Conference. It was a really neat experience being able to speak with both the American members from the international ward, as well as the German members, from our stake. The theme of this stake conference, given by our stake president Präsident Schneider was 'Warum?'...'Why?' The three things that were focused on in each talk was "Warum habe ich, warum soll ich, warum bin ich?" or, in English, "Why do I have, why should I, and why am I?" Many of the speakers used these three things and tied it into faith. Why are we a faithful people? Why am I a faithful person, as an individual? For me, I liked tying this theme into "Why do I have this calling, as a missionary? Why should I do this work? Why am I a missionary?" I felt the Spirit very strongly as I reflected upon these questions after stake conference, and gave it a lot of thought.  The Lord is shaping me to be the best person I can be. I feel it every day, and I am so grateful for it.

I am so happy that the Benson's (a senior missionary couple serving in Stuttgart) daughter called you and asked you for the piano book.  It was wonderful to be able to perform piano again and share my testimony through the beautiful hymn arrangement.  You know how much I love playing the piano and being able to have someone feel so moved and touched by the Spirit because of it is a great blessing!  I'm glad you could ask Dr Hatch to sign it for the JAE. (young single adult).  

I am overwhelmed with gratitude that Julee sent so many relative names to find and contact!  What a blessing for which we have been praying!  We are in the process of locating the exact addresses and to plan out our week so that we can make the most of our time in those particular areas.   Keep praying that her relatives will be prepared and ready to hear the message of Jesus Christ.  Thank you again! (Sidenote....Kevin has a sweet wonderful lady who helps out in his office and when finding out that Natalie was in Göppingen, told us that is where her mother was from and then proceeded to give us over 15 names of living relatives still in that area who she would like Natalie to contact about the Church! We are still overwhelmed how this happened and consider it to be such a tender mercy)

 On the way home from the stake center to Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof (we weren't able to spend the night with the Stuttgart sisters, so we had to travel back to Göppingen before coming back Sunday morning for the main session), I was standing next to a lady on the S-bahn. (Hey....I am getting so pro at public transportation. Remember Mom & Dad, like you once lovingly "threatened"  to stick me somewhere in Germany and have me find my way back -- now I could probably do it!) This woman gestured to me and asked me to sit by her, so I did. We'll call her Jane. In broken German Jane asked me who I was, and who all these people with nametags were, and why we had the name of Christ on it. I told her we were missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that we were the Mormons. Jane, who is from the Ivory Coast, had heard of us before, and our 'little blue bible'. I smiled and told Jane and her friend about the Book of Mormon, how it is another testament of Jesus Christ, and His apperance to His people in the Americas. This woman kept asking why we needed the Book of Mormon, when we have the Bible. She then took out her worn, torn, and obviously very loved Bible from her purse. She told me that "this Bible is all I need to know Christ." I then had her turn to the scripture in Eziekel 37  where it tells about the stick of Judah and Joseph, and explained to her how the Book of Mormon is the stick of Joseph, and is simply another witness of the Bible and of Jesus Christ. These 3 minutes I had to talk with this woman and her friend made me recognize the importance of always being a good example as a missionary, and being ever prepared to talk to whoever, and to answer any questions they may have. I was able to tell Jane about the restoration, and of Joseph Smith, and how the Gospel has been restored, and that she could know that by reading this Book and praying about it. Even on a crowded S-Bahn, I was amazed at how strong the Spirit was as I taught Jane. I offered the Book of Mormon to Jane, and she intially rejected my offer, but as she exited the S-Bahn she hurriedly caught the door again and said, 'Yes. I'll take it.'  She left so fast, I didn't have time before the S-bahn doors closed to get her information.  Thankfully, our contact information is in the Book of Mormon, so hopefully we will be getting a call soon to drop by a French Book of Mormon.

We also just got news that our apartment next transfer will be turned into a 4-man (or in our case, woman) apartment!! It'll be shoulder to shoulder, but I think overall a good experience. If that's the case, I can see myself possibly staying in Göppingen for 5 transfers. But you never know! It's all in the Lord's hands. :) Regardless where I am...I love working hard and serving here. Come what may and love it!

Have a wonderful week! You are always in my prayers and thoughts. 2 Nephi 25:26

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Motto

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 15 -- From Schwester MOTTO in the ALPS!

Grüßle meine liebe Familie und Freunde!

This week was one full of change and exciting new things! Sister Clark and I bid farewell, she being transferred to Wien to work in the international ward there, and her MTC companion Sister Woods came to work with me in Göppingen! It was sad saying goodbye to Sister Clark, but one of the most beautiful things about a mission is that you make lifelong friends!  My new companion, Sister Woods, is AWESOME! I love her so much already. She's energetic, funny, sweet, insightful girl from Springville/Mapleton, who loves soccer, biomedical engineering, the U, and being a missionary. I think we are going to get along great! (So glad my Cougs beat Texas and the U won we are BOTH happy as clams...uh, when does the Y play the U???)

This past week on Tuesday, before transfers, we were able to have Zone Training. One of our biggest focuses as a zone right now is the less actives, and helping find these lost sheep and help them return to the fold. The way we can better know how to work with our investigators, less actives, and ward members in general is through personal preparation. We've been doing so by learning to obtain the Christlike Attributes, as found in Preach My Gospel Chapter 6. I LOVE Preach My Gospel!! It is a MAGNIFICENT tool, and I am so grateful to be able to use it as a missionary. I would encourage everyone to begin reading PMG, specifically chapter 6, and focus on the Christlike attributes. For me, as a sister missionary, if I study each of the 9 attributes once each month for my mission, I will have been able to study them twice each. It's something that Präsident Miles has encouraged us to do, and I'm so grateful that he has!

This month I'm focusing on humility, and what a beautiful experience it has been! As I have put my faith and trust in the Lord that He will teach me what I need to, in order to accomplish that goal of becoming more humble, He has given me experiences to indeed humble me, give me patience, and strengthen my faith in Him. As I have studied the various Christlike attributes, I've recognized how interconnected they are, and you really cannot learn just one of them without learning about the others. I gave the analogy a while ago of a mission being like the refiner's fire.  That's when the Atonement comes in, and if, as Elder Holland says, 'we only have the DESIRE to believe, it is enough.' The desire to have faith leads to believing, and believing leads to faith. Faith grows as we exercise it. A mustard seed, Sanftkorn as they say in German, is very very small. However, once it is planted and nourished and fed, it expands and grows into a very large plant.  

Right now in Germany, the leaves are starting to change and at the edge of the Black Forest, there are many signs of autumn.  Its wonderful to go street contacting and walk from appointment to appointment in cooler weather. I have loved the summer but bring on the fall!

Last night, we met with Sister Böhm, an older lady in our branch who cannot attend church because of her health. We meet with her weekly: she enjoys the company and we love talking with her. Schwester Böhm is a really neat lady who loves the Bible and Book of Mormon. Every time we meet and teach her, I get more out of what she teaches us rather than we could have ever taught her! Schwester Böhm said something that goes along beautifully with the Christlike attribute of faith. She said, "Beten ist ein Werk des Glaubens. Nächstenliebe ist ein Werk des Glaubens. Und zu glauben ist eine bitte von dem Herz." Translation: "Prayer is an act of faith. Charity is an act of faith. To have faith is a plea from the heart."  God DOES answer that heartfelt plea! It is through Him and His Son that we find faith and joy in this life. The older German saints have so much faith and despite many of their tragic histories, they maintain their belief that they went through that for a reason and because of the Savior, they will never give in or give up.  I love these wonderful Germans!!!

Yesterday, in Sacrament Meeting, Ainhoa was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!  It was awesome. The Spirit was so powerful as Bruder Kindermann, the Giraldo's home teacher and paternal-figure, gave Ainhoa the blessing. Everyone I know felt the power of that moment in sacrament meeting, and especially Sister Giraldo, as Ainhoa recieved the gift of the Holy Ghost. I am so grateful Sister Clark and I followed that simple prompting after Gemeinderat (ward council) that night in July to take some brownies and a conference talk to Sister Giraldo, where we were able to have a conversation and build a friendship, and to hear her mother's desire for her daughter to be a member of the Church. It's these special moments, as we see God's beloved children make the steps to come unto Him, that make my work as a missionary completely worth the sacrifice.  Ainhoa is still glowing from her recent baptism and yesterdays confirmation and excited to attend primary, learn the articles of faith, and she has already been talking to her school friends about her baptism and the Church!

Teaching has been challenging this past week. Sadly things with Queen, Destiny, and Barbara have slowed down. It's been hard getting appointments due to busy schedules. We've been so grateful for the work we have been able to do with Ainhoa, but it makes our desire that much more to work with our other investigators. We have appointments with Barbara and Queen this week: just waiting upon return calls.  We are committed to find, teach and commit -- I haven't forgotten that is why I am here.  I am happy to make new friendships and build those relationships but ultimately those friendships and fellowshipping need to be made more by the members.  It is really disheartening when investigators stop progressing, but that is when our FAITH comes into play, and we keep working just as hard, if not harder, than before. I have a testimony of it! The Lord blesses us when we have faith. Proof? Saturday Sister Woods and I recieved a referral from Church headquarters for an 18 year old girl named Ana Berger. She lives in Sontheim-Brenz, a cute little dorf about 20 minutes south of Heidenheim, and about 1.5 hours away from Göppingen. Regardless of the trek, we made the next train we could to get there and contact Ana. Ana had the first lesson with Moroni's promise at the Washington Temple Visitor's Center. Ana did not have time to meet Saturday, but we got her phone number, challenged her to begin reading in the Book of Mormon, and now we have an appointment for later this week on Thursday. We are so excited and are going to remain optimistic :)

This week on Saturday and Sunday we have the opportunity to go to Stuttgart for Pfahl Konferenz: Stake Conference! SUPER EXCITED!  Sorry that this letter is a little shorter...I've got to get going and there is work to be done.

Thank you for all your uplifting and loving letters and packages!!  Have a wonderful week, my dear friends and family. Let me know how your challenge with reading Chapter 6 of PMG goes!

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Natalie H Motto

In Ellwangen

Our matching hoodies from H&M (parting gifts to each other…ha ha)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Week 14…Ainhoa's baptism and transfer calls

Hallo Familie und Freunde! Transfer three has BEGUN!

This week was a busy one, and one full of changes! As you can see....I cut my hair! I've been wanting to grow it out, but my layers have been hard to do so, so I cut my hair up to my shortest layer and am starting fresh with my hair. Having short hair is WEIRD, and I really don't feel like myself with it, but I know my hair is going to grow out fast(er) and, hey, change is fun and different! And I'm blaming Sister Clark somewhat on this....she was the one who put the idea in my head. :)

Earlier this week we went to Eschenbach, a little dorf in our area where some of my ancestor's on my dad's side are from. Eschenbach is a very small dorf, but absolutely beautiful. It's a nice town, with bigger homes and a gorgeous Evangelisch church in the middle of the city. Sister Clark and I were going to do some dooring and streeting, but we decided to walk around more and see what we had to work with, and we decided that we are going to go to Eschenbach for our Finding Day next transfer! We both feel like it has a LOT of potential, and we are excited to head there and do some good ol' missionary work. We didn't have success finding any ancestral names at the cemetery (Kevin has some distant grandparents from this region who we are trying to "find") but we will be going back to go to the Rathaus/ City Hall to see if they have any information of where Michael Wahl could be buried. We will see, and I'll keep you posted!!

Friday was TRANSFER CALLS.  I knew this day was coming so I'm a little prepared but sad nontheles that Sister Clark and I are being split, and Sister Clark is being transfered to Vienna! I'm so happy for her and I'm happy for me to stay in this wonderful corner of Germany.  Friday morning we went to the visa department place to pick up my visa (which came! I can stay in Germany!! --[when she got her new and renewed passport last week she had to get another visa to allow her to proselyte and live in Germany), and right when we arrived at the place our phone began to ring. Sister Clark answered, put it on speaker, and I couldn't help but smile as I heard my favorite "hick-German" accent from President Miles. President Miles has excellent German, but by far the best Cedar-City raised, Texan-sounding Aussprache (dialect)  I have ever heard. President Miles told us that Sister Clark will be working with Sister Harman, a sister from my transfer group, in the international ward as Sister Training Leader. Sister Clark is SO excited, and I am really happy for her. Funny enough, this transfer is a tausch, or exchange: Sister Harman's trainer, Sister Woods, who was also Sister Clark's MTC companion, is coming to work with me in Göppingen!  Yay!!  I am excited to work with Sister Woods, and see what big city, fast-paced missionary work she can bring to help speed up the work here in Göppingen. Change is always hard, and I sure will miss Sister Clark, but I know I will love Sister Woods and will be learning a lot this coming transfer.   Time is flying here and there is so much work to do!!! Slow down please.

A banner weekend -- Ainhoa's baptism was Saturday! What a beautiful experience that was!  Those sacred moments are why I am a missionary.  We got up a little earlier so we could meet the Giraldo's at the Bahnhof and travel to the Esslingen gemeindehaus together. We don't have a baptismal font in Göppingen, and the nearest one is about 30 minutes away in Esslingen, near Stuttgart.  Cute little Ainhoa was so excited and happy to meet us, even at 8 in the morning. She even brought her hamster, Luna, to the baptism, so that Luna could spend the special day with her too. (I find out more and more that ten year olds are the same, wherever you go in the world!) We arrived at the gemeindehaus/ward building with plenty of time to help the Esslingen elders set up chairs, get everything ready for the refreshments after the service, get pictures taken, and greet everyone. Ainhoa kept asking when the service would start, because she was so excited!  When it came time for the actual baptism, the water in the font was actually a little too warm; the past few baptisms had been ice cold, so they cranked up the heat a little more, but perhaps too much. Bruder Fromm (our GML/Ward mission leader) and Bruder Fingerle, who were the witnesses, opened the doors to the font and steam poured out. It was like a sauna in the tiny little Primary room! Ainhoa looked so beautiful in her little white dress as her brother Piero lead her into the water. She cringed a little because of the heat, but that didn't defer from a great big smile on her face. Sister Clark and I waited on the side and stood with Sister Giraldo. The service was beautiful, and there was no denying the powerful spirit in the room as Piero baptized Ainhoa. It was a very special moment for Sister Giraldo to see her little girl baptized. The three of us were pretty emotional, but there were only tears of happiness!  Regardless of who you are, what generation you are from, how old you are, what place on earth you live...this ordinance is assigned and required for all of Heavenly Father's children.  And it was that enlightenment that came to me, understanding again why this work -- bringing His children to Christ -- is sacred and necessary for our happiness here on earth and our salvation in the hereafter.  After the baptism, I gave Ainhoa a great big hug and asked her how she felt. She gave me a great big hug, squeezed me as tight as she could and said, 'I'm so grateful I followed Jesus.' Cue the floodgates!  Ainhoa has such a strong testimony and of her Savior Jesus Christ, and even though she is only 10 and doesn't fully understand everything in the Gospel quite yet, she knows how important it is to do all we can do follow Christ and His example, and strive to be like Him.

After Ainhoa's baptism we still had the afternoon to go out and work, so we decided to head North to Bolheim, a dorf outside of Heidenheim, to follow up on a referral we recieved Friday. This referral is from a member in California, to go by her aunt and uncle who are 94 years old. We figured it would be best to follow up on this referral as soon as possible... :) Cute little Gretta, the wife, answered the door. (Mom and Grandma: she reminds me a lot of Jeanie Ruderhauser. Tiny, little, but sweet and very talkative). We talked for a little bit, making the connection with her niece in California, and explained to her who we were. Gretta was eager to learn more, but sadly she and her husband didn't have time to meet right then, but we made an appointment for next Saturday when they do. Gretta is Evangelisch, Hans Katolisch, and the two are very open to learning more about the Gospel, because they had heard so much about it from their niece. Yes, another shout-out for member-missionary work!!! We gave Hans and Gretta (yep...just like Hans and "Gretel"...Brothers Grimm should have met this couple)  a Book of Mormon, encouraged them to start reading, and they gladly accepted. We are so excited to have these two cute investigators.

That's it for this week! Tomorrow we have zone training, and Thursday I get to meet my new companion. Lots of change, but change is good and I am so grateful for it!!  Bring it on!

Thank you in particular to my ward young women for their letters: I sure love you sweet girls!! As well as to Brother Healey, the Shipps, Nelsons, and Travis' for their letters. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to show how much you support me and care.  I love hearing from my ward family back home! :)

Have a WONDERFUL week! Love you!!!

Liebe grüß,
Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Our "band" of missionaries from our district

 "Hello Germany -- I love you!"

Making Spätzel for Sister Clark

Ainhoa's baptism day -- she was so excited, she even brought her hamster:)

Attempting to style and curl my new shorter hair
At Ainhoa's baptism

In Eschenbach