Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas in Vienna...Mass at Stephensdom...the New Year

What a fantastic week this was!! First off, I LOVED being able to talk to you!!!!!! What an amazing Christmas & Birthday gift it was to be able to talk over Skype. I never thought that day would come where I would be able to Skype home and now it`s schon vorbei! That experience was one I will never forget! Skyping with you offered me your incredible love and support. I am so blessed to have a family such as you!
Christmas Eve (which is celebrated more here than the 25th) we spent with the Schmid family and the Huy family. We were able to enjoy a delicious lunch at the Schmid´s, complete with knödel and Schweinbrat. It. Was. DELICIOUS. (Let me just say I am very happy I got to maintain Brown/Motto family tradition of eating a German meal for Christmas Eve.) After dinner we were able to attend Midnight Mass at the majestic Stephan´s Dome with the Huy`s and the rest of the missionaries in Vienna. What an experience that was --culturally and religiously very interesting. Over 500 people came to the mass and it was enitrely in German, not Latin like I thought it might be, so I was able to understand it.  Imagine people from all walks of life, most dressed in their finest traditional Austrian trachten, coming together to celebrate the birth of the Savior.  As I sat there and observed, I pondered that many of these people are probably "once-a-year Church goers"....and believing that honoring their Savior in this way is completely sufficient.  Alas ..this is why we are remind His children that there is more!  

Overall it was really an amazing experience and one I will never forget.  As we waited in line, we talked to a super fun couple from Seattle who was traveling Vienna for Christmas. We talked to them for 2 hours while we waited, and had a really great discussion about the Church and what we do as missionaries. This couple was so warm and friendly and very curious about what we believed, and what the differences between us and the Catholic church were. They found it amusing how many missionaries were at the Mass, and afterward we exchanged information. The also sang me happy birthday after the mass was over!  So sweet of them....and strangely reminded me that it actually was my birthday! I was so caught up in the cultural experience and the moments of celebrating Christmas...that I forgot I was turning 20.  I feel so blessed to be able to be here as a missionary on Christmas and to have this 20th birthday!
We were able to spend Christmas Day with our Relief Society President and another cute single lady from our ward. They made us a beautiful lunch....I feel like I've been eating so much! I am still feeling full! I am so grateful to incredible ward members who support us and take care of us. Overall, this Christmas was wonderful, and one I will never forget. Now I know what people say when they mean that Christmas will be the most special on your mission. I was able to contemplate and really, truly, deeply focus on the meaning of Christmas. I am so grateful to my Father in Heaven for the opportunity I have each day to focus my energy and thoughts on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how that made my Christmas THAT much more special. 
Now that the Christmas season is over-- it´s now time to floor the gas pedal and work that much harder as a missionary! Making goals is something not strange to missionary life, and I look forward to making resolutions for myself for this next year of 2014. Also, as a missionary, it´s really interesting to know the difference between diligently and prayerfully setting goals and accomplishing them, as opposed to setting goals just to set them. 
It is my testimony that in this new year, we can be completely made new. Just like in baptism! Exactly 12 years ago tomorrow, I made a very big step. I didn´t quite understand it, but in that font in Chicago, Illinois, I made one of the best choices of eternity. Through that decision to be baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, so many unseen and seen blessings have come into my life. 
I am so grateful for all of you and for your support and love. Talking with you gave me such strength and peace in knowing that all is well at home. I pray for you all by name, each and every day, and I cannot wait to talk to you again very, very soon. Know that I love you and am eternally grateful to be your family!!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Guten Rütsch!
Alles liebe,
Sister Natalie Motto

Monday, December 23, 2013

"Most rewarding Year of my Life -- Christmas Greetings from Sister Motto"

Hallo Familie und Freunde,

Meine Güte -- It's almost WEIHNACHTEN!!! The missionaries throughout our mission, myself very much included, are so excited for the opportunity to Skype home and talk with our families. I am so excited to see my wonderful family and feel of your love and joy face to face.   My bonus, in particular on this day....which very few can say, is that I get to see you for my birthday!  I know that Mom says she hates the idea of ever not being with me on my birthday.  Well, guess what?  You got your wish Mom!

This week we had Christmas Conference with President and Sister Miles.  Thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting, the Miles arranged for us to enjoy some good food, games, music, and a beautiful thought. We recieved packages, letters, and really were able to enjoy the time together as missionaries. I have realized more and more over the past few weeks what a blessing it is to be a missionary during this Christmas season. It brings a joy I cannot really describe. What a gift it is to be able to get together and sing praises in celebration of our Lord´s birth. And Christmas is only the beginning!  I know that you have been praying that I would not feel down because of not being home during this family oriented, special time of year.  Gratefully and as though our Heavenly Father has specifically heard your prayers, I am buoyed up and blessed to feel so much happiness, gratitude and pure love.  I am reminded daily through His Spirit that it's NOT about me.  I have been set apart to bring good will and the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to His children!  It's not hard to feel fulfillment and peace when you forget about yourself, focus on the Savior and follow His example.  All year round we have the opportunity to remember Him and His life, and the ever-significant role He has in Heavenly Father´s Plan of Happiness. How grateful I am for the knowledge I have of Heavenly Father´s plan, and for the testimony that I have to share with others. What a GIFT it is to be a missionary this time of year!  I know that repaying Him is not possible other than; living a Christ centered life, keeping the commandments, receiving those critical and eternal covenants and

Following Christmas conference, we were able to go caroling as a zone at Rathaus Weihnachtsmarkt (It's a huge Christmas market right down town in the historical area of Vienna and near Ringstrasse)! That was such a fun and exciting experience that I will never forget -- one of those "once in a lifetime" moments. I wish that I could have had you on face time.  You would have enjoyed watching us. In fact we did have a huge crowd follow us around us and take pictures, filmed us, and sang along. I wouldn´t be surprised if we were on Instagram and youtube by now.... :) And the best part is that we were able to get quite a few referrals for other missions (Rathaus is very international) and were able to share the message of the Restoration with many. What greater gift can there be this Christmas than the gift of the Gospel?

I went on Austausch this week with Sister Regnier who hails from sunny California. She is currently serving with Sister Judd in Graz. Sister Regnier is so amazing! We had a great time together! She is really sweet and very spiritual, and a very hard working missionary. Outside of getting lost visiting less actives (seems to be a trend with me....sheesh) and having all 4 of our appointments for that day fall out, it was a great exchange to get to work with and get to know Sister Regnier better.

Unfortunately due to our and her schedules, we weren´t able to meet with Frau Eiser this week. We have kept good contact almost every day and we are able over the phone to help answer her questions (as well as remind her about) in her Book of Mormon reading. She is a very sweet lady and I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach her.  She remains very interested in the Book of Mormon  and learning more about the church. As a missionary, it is really fun to look back and try and count all the times you have shared your testimony with someone or taught someone a lesson. The lessons and moments that stand out to me the most, however, are when not only I felt the Spirit, but the investigator did as well. Those moments are so cherished and beautiful, and are small little reminders of the joy as described in D&C 18.

I´ve got a funny story for you (debating whether or not I should save it for Skype....but I guess I´ll tell it now and elaborate more later.) Sister Green, the Elders, and myself were on our way home from a Family Home Evening with a family in our ward. We rode the S-bahn (schnell bahn) home and I was sure to tell Sister Green we needed to get off at the Gersthof stop. After that, we separated a little and went to talk with different people on the train. A few stops later at Gersthof, I got off and began looking for my companion. She was nowhere in sight. Having gotten off right where the Elders were sitting, they watched and laughed as I began to frantically look for my companion. The ÖBB train doors slammed shut, and my heart dropped as I watched the train pull away. Elders Worthen and Jensen began to laugh really hard, and I gestured to them to call Sister Green, who thankfully had the phone. As the schnellbahn pulled out of Gersthof, I saw Sister Green in the window talking with a young woman. She saw me on the platform, and her face was priceless! I began to laugh, and gestured to her to call the elders. Then the train was gone. I never thought in my entire mission that I would be separated from my companion this way. THANKFULLY Sister Green and I discussed an "emergency plan" in case we were ever separated on an Ubahn usw, that I would always come to her. I sat peacefully on the gangplank until the next schnellbahn came 12 minutes later and met Sister Green and the Elders at the next stop Krottenbach. I was very calm during the whole process, definitely a blessing from heaven, because a little American Mormon missionary lost ALONE in Vienna isn´t probably the best scenario. I was able to talk with a woman who traveled with me on the train to Krottenbach, and was able to teach her about the Restoration! That was a tender mercy. Needless to say, after this experience, Sister Green and I have remained in eye contact to eachother! (We later told this story to President Miles and he just laughed and laughed.  I assume we are not the first ones to have this experience.)

I hope this email finds you all healthy, well, and excited for CHRISTMAS! I have felt so peaceful deep inside my soul, and i know it is due to the prayers and love being felt in my behalf. I read a talk this morning by Elder Nelson from the most recent conference, "Decisions for Eternity." As I read this talk, I was overwhelmed with love from my Father in Heaven. This life changing decision to serve the Lord has shaped and molded me in unbelievable ways.  I have had experiences and moments where I have been able to feast upon the Spirit, and through which I have gained priceless knowledge and personal revelation. In return from these blessings and experiences, I have become a more diligent and effective missionary. I am still learning, still making mistakes, but always  moving forward in the best way I know how. As Elder Nelson stated, "Each day is a day of decision, and our decisions determine our destiny."

This year has been the most rewarding of my entire life, and I am so thankful for the chance to spend my year of 2014 in the service of my God.

I pray that each of you will be reminded in a very special way that Jesus, whose birth we celebrate this week, is the Savior. My heart is so full!! I love you all SO MUCH!!! May your Christmas be warm, merry, white, and bright! And, of course, enjoy a very happy and wonderful new year.

Frohe Weihnachten!

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Monday, December 16, 2013

Enjoying the dream of a missionary living in Vienna at Christmastime

Liebe Familie und Freunde,

Guten Morgan and guess what? Christmas is right around the corner!!  With all this authentic Austrian celebration of Christmas, it still doesn't feel completely 100% Christmasy without snow. Where is my snow?!  So apparently the awesome Viennese old timers "Wieners" here keep informing me that  it is very rare for snow to come at Christmastime.  Kind of bummed about that...then again.... regardless of what color this Christmas is--I get to spend it in VIENNA!! :) 

We have been busy little elves, ah hem, missionaries...bringing lots of GOOD NEWS to people as much as we can! It's been fun contacting in the Christmas markets though most who are there are uninterested in stopping and talking.  It's really the random "run-ins" where I can honestly say that the Lord places that person there and us right smack in front of them for no other purpose than to say "Hi, we are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we would love to share with you a beautiful message about the Savior".  I love those kind of "accidental" meetings.  Every day we pray that we will be placed in the right spot at the right it helps that every time I get lost...I still feel as if the Lord is directing me to "that person".   Getting lost in Vienna isn't all that bad.

I'm going to have a "first" here in Vienna cool is this?  We have been invited by members to attend midnight mass with the elders at the beautiful Stephan's Dome on the 24th. I am so excited!  I assume it will be quite a cultural shock, in a way, but kind of cool that we can observe other religions celebrating the Birth of the Savior. We also had a WONDERFUL ward Christmas party this weekend, and got to make lebkuchen (my FAVORITE!!) Nothing better than a rich, Christmas cultural experience for the holidays. The members spoil us here and are so warm and loving and they all feel like they need to watch over us, make sure we are eating well and healthy and staying bundled up.  I get reminded every Sunday to keep a hat, gloves and scarf on...there you go Mom.  No worrying!  I LOVE this Vienna 1st ward!!!!

This week was truly full of miracles. Heavenly Father has blessed Sister Green and I with so many teaching opportunities, to find and teach more of His prepared and ready children for the message of the Gospel. HE really does look out for His missionaries.  We just have to have faith.

One funny yet so amazing experience we had was at church yesterday. We were mingling after Sacrament Meeting (which comes last in the 3 hour block over here) and a cute older very colorfully & sharply dressed lady came up to us. She introduced herself and plötzlich told Sister Green that she wants to be baptized, and will give us a call sometime today so we can set up an appointment to start teaching her.  WHAT?!!!  And she came to Church without even our invitation!!  (Isn't that cool how a church building is like a Liahona for others?) So Clara apparently had been taught by missionaries a few years back, but had some family problems and could not continue being taught. Now apparently she is ready and completely willing to hear the message of the restored Gospel. WOW.  We are so excited! We also were able to meet a friend of Miga, a student named "B", who is also from Mongolia and studies here in Vienna. When Miga invited her to church a few weeks ago, "B" was really hesitant to learn about Christ, especially after having no Christian background. The past 3 weeks B has been coming to church, and Miga (our amazing translator) told us that B feels something different when she is at church, and is wanting to learn more about the Church. The feelings she's been having at church make her feel really warm inside, and she wants to learn where those feelings come from. Because Miga leaves for her mission tomorrow, our wonderful Baagii Huy will help us with translating, and all the while we will be helping B learn German. It will definitely be an adventure and a challenge, as language barriers always are, but overall we are very excited to teach both B and Clara.

Our lesson with Frau Eiser this week was spectacular!!! I wish you could have been a fly on the wall.  Sweet sweet moments as we taught her about prophets and the importance of a restoration of the Priesthood on the earth.  As part of the 1st lesson in "Verkündet Mein Evangelium!" (Preach My Gospel), the Spirit was so sweet and warm.  We asked her if she believed there could be a living prophet on the earth today, just as Abraham and Moses in the Bible. She sat quietly for a minute, and then looked at us and said "well, I am not quite sure. I would need to pray about it, but my heart is telling me yes." We then challenged Frau Eiser to pray about Thomas S. Monson, if he really is a prophet and if what we had taught her was true. The Spirit was so gentle and quiet in that moment, and yet overwhelming and simply beautiful. Frau Eiser is making so much progress! I have such a testimony that the prayers of you at home truly help and bless our work here as missionaries. For that I am so grateful!

This week I have been really focusing on the "true meaning of Christmas", and what that means to me as a missionary. Earlier this week, I was listening to some reverent Christmas music and heard  "O Come, Emmanuel."  We learn in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon of faithful Christians in the Old and New Worlds awaiting His birth. As I think of what I can do to better come closer to my Savior this holiday season, I think of the call of "O Come, Emmanuel." By definition, Emmanuel, or Immanuel, is Hebrew for "God with us."  

(You know how special it is to walk around and look for people to share the Lord's message with while listening to street vendors and young school children singing Silent Night??? OH and in AUSTRIA!)

What an absolutely incredible, everlasting GIFT our loving Heavenly Father gave us by sending us His Son.  There are also the bountious gifts of personal revelation, the gift of a testimony, the gift of peace and comfort, the gift of gratitude. I've mentioned before that, outside of my family and my temple covenants, my mission is the greatest gift I have ever been given. I have recognized more and more is truly how much our loving Heavenly Father gives us. We all need to pause for a moment this Christmas holiday and say THANK YOU for all these gifts He has graciously and openly given us!!!!

How grateful I am for this Gospel and my Savior Jesus Christ, and for this very, very brief time and opportunity I have to serve Him. I thank you for your prayers and support given in my behalf each day. I never understood what missionaries meant when they said they "feel" the support and love, but now I do. I truly feel strength in my muscles when I awake in the morning to get up and work. I feel motivated and the desire to work hard. I feel an outpouring of love in the letters and emails I recieve each week. Know that I am forever grateful for all of you! I love you all and wish you all a very wonderful and gratitude filled week! 

I can't wait to Skype with you on Christmas!

Your very grateful, almost 20 year old missionary,

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Monday, December 9, 2013

Letter from Sister Motto "The Lord has been prominent in our life this week"

Hallo Familie und Freunde!!

The hand of the Lord has been so prominent in our lives this week! He is constantly blessing us with tender mercies every moment of every day, but today I am particularly thankful as I reflect upon the past 7 days.

This week we began to teach Frau Eiser, a woman who was a referral from the Bishop in the Linz ward in Salzburg stake. Frau Eiser is about 50 years old and is good friends with the Bishop in Linz. They`ve talked a little about the gospel together, and when the bishop found out that Frau Eiser would be moving to Vienna (this occured about a month ago) he gave us a call and asked us to get in touch with her! Figuring that Frau Eiser maybe wanted help moving, we called her and asked when we could come help with the move and get things organized. She thanked us graciously, and said "I don`t need help moving, but I would really like to learn more about your church. I have a Book of Mormon, and also a lot of questions. When do you have time?" Can I just express how much missionaries LOVE those kind of comments??!!!! :) We met with Frau Eiser Wednesday and had a wonderful first lesson with her, mostly answering her questions about the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and prayer. We will be meeting with Frau Eiser (I almost wrote Sister Eiser!) again this week Thursday. Please keep her in your prayers.   Member missionary work is powerful and makes THE DIFFERENCE!

We were able to get my visa (resident permit for Austria)  this week and get Sister Green all registered for hers. Aside from getting COMPLETELY lost in Vienna for about an hour, I am quite proud to say that Sister Motto found her way back home again, (though admittingly after giving the Zone leaders and Elder Bodily a call to help me get on track), and was able to figure out a shortcut to the visa place for our next trip there. Taking over this area has been a little bit of a challenge, especially with only having been here for 6 weeks before Sister Green got here. Sister Green is such a trooper though, and is very patient when it takes just a little extra time to get places because Sister Motto is still trying to figure out her way around. :) I may be a bit "blonde" and directionally challenged but I'm faithful, know how to pray, ask directions and laugh. By the time I get home, I look forward to being completely PRO at public transportation and getting around!

Yesterday was interesting and amazing at the same time. I love our ward and church, as usual was great! I had the opportunity to play the piano in Sacrament Meeting again.  Bischoff Souceck asked me to play about 3 weeks ago, and I was so excited for another opportunity to play piano. I played Dr. Hatch`s arrangement of "Spirit of God." It went well and I was content.  I am always grateful for the opportunity to share my testimony through music. Music speaks much louder and touches much deeper than words could ever express. 

After church, we were able to eat with our GML Perry and his wife Theresa with the elders and Miga. (Miga has her mission call to this mission, and has had quite a few visa problems. She got her Austrian visa and is able to start her mission in Linz next week! She will be in a dritt with Sister Peterson and Hungerli.) We had a great lesson, but afterward I was NOT feeling well. We went home to begin studies before planning to head out again, but I honestly could not move. Ugh, ugh, ugh....Last night I woke up and was sick all night long. None of the others who ate at Perry`s got something weird happened to me. The food maybe?  Either way, I didn`t get much sleep and was sick all night, as well as a little today, but I have been drinking lots of fluids, restricted my diet to crackers and herbal ginger and peppermint tea and I am beginning to feel a bit better. It is hard being sick on a mission: it`s hard being completely helpless and not being able to work like you want to. It`s almost a guilty feeling taking time for myself when I am on the Lord`s time, but I know He understands and I need to rest up and get healthy to be able to give this work my best effort. Please don't worry about me, I'll be fine! I am confident "this"  was just the 24 hour variety. 

I was reviewing my General Conference notes from this past October conference, and I came across this quote from Elder Nelson´s talk "Decisions for Eternity." This talk was probably one of my very favorites! Elder Nelson said, "Your spirit is an eternal entity....Your Heavenly Father has known you for a very long time. You, as His son or daughter, were chosen by Him to come to earth at this precise time, to be a leader in His great work on earth.You were chosen not for your bodily characteristics but for your spiritual attributes, such as bravery, courage, integrity of heart, a thirst for truth, a hunger for wisdom, and a desire to serve others. You developed some of these attributes premortally. Others you can develop here on earth as you persistently seek them." What a beautiful, eternal truth!!!

When taught the Gospel and when they listen with an open, sincere heart and desire to learn, the Gospel has a familiar "ring" to people. Each day, whether on the straßenbahn, Ubahn, bus, or out walking, I cannot help but think to myself how I used to know these individuals premortally, and what a silly thing it is that we don`t remember one another. What a humbling thought it is, as well, to think that I have been given gifts, spiritual gifts, meant to bless and uplift those around me, and how others´ are there for my benefit. That thought alone makes me want to work so much harder to find those ready to hear the Gospel, and do all I can just as Alma says in Alma 29, to preach the Gospel "with the voice of a trump!"

Another thought along the lines of this quote....our Heavenly Father loves us. He is our FATHER. Being on a mission and far away from home, I can´t pick up the phone and give my wonderful Daddy in Utah a call and talk for a while. However, I always have the opportunity to communicate with my other Father. This Father has unlimited minutes, and is always "online". He is always there to give us counsel, comfort, and love. Just as Elder Nelson says, "He has known (us) for a long time" and He is consistently, unwaveringly there for us and gives us exactly what we need in the time we need it. I had an experience a couple weeks ago where I was getting close to the end of my rope. I was exhausted and tired and spiritually drained. In a moment during quiet personal prayer, Heavenly Father blessed me with the comfort and presence of His Spirit, and with gentle warmth let me know that everything would be ok and that I could indeed continue on. I have such a testimony of prayer and am so grateful for the opportunity here on my mission to build my relationship with my Heavenly Vater and my Savior Jesus Christ each and every day.

Have a wonderful week! I am so grateful for your letters of support and many many prayers in my behalf.  Thank you for helping me stay strong and continue on in those moments of discouragement.  Thank goodness those only last a few minutes and I remember the responsibility I have to preach this Gospel with fervor and faith and give others optimism and a wonderful hope for eternal life.  

I love this Gospel so much.  

Alles gute!
Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Monday, December 2, 2013

Week 27…"Christmas and Adventzeit have arrived in Vienna"

Hallo liebe Familie und Freunde!!

Tis the season and deck the halls... Christmas and Adventzeit have arrived in VIENNA!  Charming little (actually really very big) Christmas markets have exploded around every corner, and beautiful lights are hanging over the streets, on buildings, sign posts and even on the S-Bahn.  The delicious scent of nutmeg, citrus and chocolate and hot cider permeate the air and the Christmas desserts and delicacies are everywhere.  I am most thankful to be a missionary during this magical time in Austria. 

Over the past week, I have said goodbye to one companion and greeted another! Sister Judd is now serving in nearby Graz as Sister Training Leader, so we will have the opportunity to go on Tausch together! :) Sister Green and I have been "reunited" so zu sagen, and are so happy and excited to be working together here in Vienna. It's kind of surreal being able to work with my MTC companion again, but particularly special at the same time.  Seeing her again makes me realize how FAST time goes.  Both of us have been out for 6 months and have learned a lot: it's now time for us to take what we've learned and add it together and apply it to most effectively work here in the Vienna 1st ward.

This week was extremely hectic with getting two sisters moved out of our apartment, getting two sisters moved in, saying goodbyes and hellos and serving the Lord. Thursday of last week was transfer day, and because Sister Judd and Sister Harman left earlier in the morning, Sister Clark and I had the opportunity to be companions for a day. It was so much fun being able to spend time with Sister Clark as companions again. :) I love her so much!! We were able to have Thanksgiving lunch/dinner with some American families in Sister Clark's ward. I heard you got the pictures from Sister Rhee!! Although it wasn't completely "home", I felt so at peace and loved with these families. I got to spend time with cute 9 year old Julianna Rhee-- talking about horses and swim team and dogs (she's a little version of me!), and got to spend some time in the yard playing with the family dog Balli. It was just like being at home!! Thanksgiving was wonderful overall.  I know you prayed that I would feel gratitude and not be homesick and that is exactly how I felt.  We ate plenty of traditional American turkey and rolls and yams and potatoes-- everything tasted soooooo good and it was comforting to be among some fellow American Saints during this holiday. I thought a lot about you, my dear family, and want to let you know that not a moment has gone by that I don't think of you fondly and lovingly! I am so grateful for all you do for me and your prayers. I feel them each day, and even the thought of prayers in my behalf gives me strength and courage to do what I do each and every day.

For the majority of our weekend, Sister Green and I had the opportunity, along with the other Vienna missionaries, to volunteer and help out with the Vienna International Charity Bazaar held each year at the Vienna Austria Center. Friday afternoon we helped set up the stands and chairs and booths, and then Saturday got to help with selling items. Missionaries have helped out each year for quite a few years in a row, and it has made a good impression on the Church. It's always good to show people that we are normal, average people who are simply performing a work of love and dedication. Sister Green and I had a neat opportunity to talk to many people about our faith and what we do as missionaries, as people came up to us and asked about our nametags. We talked with people from all over the world! We found quite a few of potentials to teach the Gospel.   Any opportunity to FIND the Lord's children who want to hear about the Savior is always a great one to take! We had prayed earlier that day that Heavenly Father would give us the opportunity to find some of His prepared to teach, and He answered our prayers! There is great power in prayer and faith and putting forth our effort in working. Prayer just doesn't work without action, doing something...forgetting about ourselves and relying solely on our Heavenly Father.

I know Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is right on it's way, but I want to take this time to simply express gratitude for being able to serve a full-time mission. My heart is honestly so full as I sit and write this email. Even during the hard times, (and I have plenty) I learn so many things.  I have never had so many, daily, almost life changing learning experience than here on my mission. When everyone told me that a mission would be hard, I expected it to be hard in completely other ways that it is. Simply put, a mission experience and the emotions connected cannot be put into words. My mission has taught me so much. As I look back in retrospect over the past six months, I have made plenty of mistakes. But these mistakes have taught me and have given me experience to become better.  We give our best, we try our hardest, we mess up, we succeed, and we progress. As long as we are willing to PRESS FORWARD and give it our best, the Lord will help us become who we want to become. He cannot change us without us wanting to be changed. When we want to change, when we want to be better, when we want to be more refined, the Lord blesses us bountifully with gifts and talents and trials and blessings that ultimately make up a recipe for a better refined, dedicated, sanctified individual. I am so grateful I have decided to serve a mission. I'm not a perfect missionary, and I have LOTS to learn and I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for this Sister Motto!

I am so grateful for this unique opportunity to walk hand in hand with my Savior, going about His work, and being able to serve Him 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. He has given me so much in my life. Where much is given, much is required (thanks for always saying that Mom!) and we have been given SO MUCH. I see individuals here on my mission who have literally nothing: in temporal and physical needs, as well as spiritual nourishment. (Even in this prosperous city, there is plenty of poverty.) There has been nothing more rewarding that I have ever been given in my entire life, than to see someone broken, beaten, and lost, and see them accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Simply message today is this.  The Lord has commanded us to feed His sheep, to find that lost lamb, to nourish it and take care of it and bring it back to His fold.  We can all do this everyday of our lives...missionary or not.  At this time of my life, I am a called servant of Jesus Christ to bear witness and to preach His Gospel for it is true and the only way we can return to Him is by accepting and living it.  

What a priviledge it is to bear His name upon my heart, each and every day, and to be His representative.

I love you all so much! Stay healthy and enjoy the beautiful season to celebrate and remember our Savior's birth.


Liebe Grüße from your favorite Austrian missionary,

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Hiking in the VIenna Woods (cue Strauss)

Viennas Christkindlemarkt

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