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

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful testimony and understanding of the work! She is suchspecial missionary, so mature & calm & reverential about this call she is very ably filling. I imagine her parents have a special joy in her delight to serve in their footsteps & mission language.