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

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