Monday, February 24, 2014

It's HALFTIME!

Hallo meine Lieben!

Halbzeit..wow, it's halt time of my mission! I never thought I would ever write those words to begin my email. This Friday I will celebrate one year after going to the temple for the first time as well as 9 months being in the mission field.

Time has gone unbelievably fast. Perhaps in some moments it wasn´t always so, but looking back I am literally shocked that time is where it is right now. Just as each day begins new, now is the time to set new goals and resolutions, and help myself improve and be better than ever before.

This week was a whirlwind. We had so much happen! Being in TWO wards now AND with an extra companion is definitely different and definitely an adjustment, but our loving Father in Heaven will only give us mountains that He knows we can climb.

First things first...We met with Clara, a lady who has been taught on and off with missionaries for the past ten years. She is half Hungarian, half Austrian and is probably the sweetest person I have met my entire mission. She is so humble and excited to commit to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She told us that now is the time for her to start fresh, and she is commited to be baptized on Easter, April 19!! We are thrilled. Clara is so sweet, and we are so excited for the opportunity to teach her and strengthen her testimony of the Gospel.

We also began teaching Zacheus, a 45 year old man from Nigeria who LOVES the Bible and God. We met up at Westbahnhof and had our lesson in the benches there. That lesson was one of the most powerful and spiritual of my mission. Even amidst the noise and chaos of people catching trains and running back and forth, it was as though we were sitting quitely in the Church -- completely surrounded in the bubble of the Holy Ghost.  Zacheus, just as all the Africans I´ve ever taught, knows the Bible inside and out, and had many questions as to why we need the Book of Mormon. When he asked why we need the Book of Mormon, we read the scripture in Ezekiel where it speaks of two sticks: the stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph. We also read in Matthew where it reads "in the mouth of two or three witnesses, (my) word shall be established.) Zacheus' eyes lit up with excitement, and we shared simple testimonies about the truths in the Book of Mormon. We gave Zacheus 3 Nephi 11 to read and will have an appointment next week.

This weekend we were able to enjoy a very special and unique Stake Conference. Broadcasted from Salt Lake City, we were able to hear from Elder Schwitzer of the Seventy, Sister Stephens of Relief Society, Elder Bednar, and Elder Hales, all speak to JUST the German saints. The entire meeting was centered on missionary work in Europe. The most special event of all, however, was the talk Elder Bednar gave. He gave it all in German...completely pure and untranslated. . It was BEAUTIFUL, and it was extremely touching to see the Vienna saints weep with joy to hear from an Apostle of the Lord in their own language. I will never forget what I felt seeing the members so happy. Honestly, I don´t remember anything Elder Bednar said, I only remember the powerful spirit that filled the room as he testified of the truthfulness of the Gospel, and of his love for the Saints in Germany and Austria.  It was a moment that will be forever imprinted in my heart.

Wonderful news! We met with Nicole again this week. She is progressing INCREDIBLY! We read the story of Lehi´s dream with her, and explained the symbolism of it. We talked about how much joy the Gospel brings us when we share it with others. We are hoping that Nicole will talk with her husband, Dennis, and have him be taught. We are also hoping to help her set an exact date goal for her baptism, and I know prayers on her behalf would be beneficial. I have such a testimony of prayer, even of the smallest and simpliest of prayers.

Being able to serve here in Vienna for one more transfer is such a great blessing. I truly love this city and it's people. When I was little and missionaries came home and would explain how much they love the people and land where they served, I never understood exactly what they meant. Now I know. The little puzzle piece that completes the picture in loving one's mission is CHARITY. Whether that be a mission as a full-time missionary, called and set-apart by the authority and power of God to serve His children, or our missions within our families and friends, the biggest key to happiness and being successful is charity.

Charity is deeper, more long standing, than normal, worldly love. Love is a product of charity. Charity is unwavering, strong, and genuine. When we have charity for others, we are unexplainably happy. Charity fills us with love, peace, comfort, and hope. It leads us to "go about doing good" to bless the lives of others. Just as Lehi and the fruit of the tree of life, the inexplicable joy we feel from the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be something we want to share. We want to fill our baskets and share with everyone the sweetness of this fruit, no matter the cost or sacrifice. This is what God has called me to do. I am so humbled to be able to partake of such a great responsibility and calling, to bring this basket of fruit over mountains and fields and plains, to help Him "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39)

I love you, my wonderful family and dearest friends. Your prayers are of great strength to me. Hold high the flame of your faith, and press ever forward in the work of the Lord!

Until next week!


Karlskirche in Wien

Auf Wiedersehen Elder Worthen!

Best group of sister missionaries….saying Good-Bye at the Bahnhof in Vienna on Transfer Day

"One of my wonderful high school friends…now one of my dearest missionary friends, Sister Winters saying goodbye to Austria and heading off to Stuttgart!" 

"My dearest and most loyal Sister Clark…good luck in Salzburg!"

Monday, February 17, 2014

"Zum Dritt"….Letter from Die Schöne Schwester Motto

Servus meine Familie und Freunde!!

Well, exciting and different news this transfer!!   I get to stay another transfer here in my BELOVED Vienna, and I get to work with Sister Green again! We also will be working in a dritt (threesome) with Sister Packer (fellow PGHS friend!) who is serving in the international ward right now. There were less sisters coming in then going home, and President Miles did not want to pull sisters out of either of our wards, so for the next 6 weeks we will be working in BOTH Vienna 1st ward as well as the international ward!  This will definitely be a different way of doing missionary work than what I have done the past 3 transfers, but I am so excited and happy to stay in Vienna and to get to know new members too!  The Lord requires us to give us our ALL -- and that is what He will continue to get from me.  




This week, with the craziness of transfer calls being a perfect "cap" on everything, went very well and was very successful. We met with sweet Nicole and had a great object lesson on prioritizing time. We used a jar and 3 oranges with "Kirche" "Gebet" and "Schriften Lesen" written on them. We then added a bunch of rice into the jar. We asked Davin to put all the rice and all the oranges into the jar. Naturally, he started off with pouring the rice inside and then add the oranges. But it doesn´t work! We explained, starting our puzzle over, that as we made room for the 3 important things that Heavenly Father has asked us to do, the rice (symbolizing playtime, homework, work, errands, etc.) will fit. When we make time for Heavenly Father, He will make time for us to do all that we need to. Nicole LOVED this lesson, and is still preparing to be baptized. Words are inadequate in expressing how grateful I am to be teaching her and her darling family.

I was able to go on Austausch/split with Sister Judd last week in Graz! The trainride was STUNNING!  Welcome to the world´s most beautiful mission! President Miles even says that the trainride from Vienna to Graz is the most beautiful in our mission, and now I know what he means! It was really neat working with Sister Judd in a different area than Vienna, and getting to know the members there. Graz is unique and is a very beautiful city and they have a fantastic ward, but after we arrived back to magical, musical Wien -- I couldn´t help but feel like I was coming home. I'm pretty sure Vienna has stolen my heart, what else can I say?


On the way to Graz

"Vienna has stolen my heart"

Graz

Graz


 After the splits, Sister Green and I went on another new and exciting adventure!  We had an appointment with Wolfgang and Hannelore Kaindel, a less active couple who we try to meet with once a transfer. Unknown to me (I had never been to their house before, they have always traveled to Wien), the Kaindel´s live in Laa an der Thaya, a (small village) dorf just TWO KILOMETERS from the Czech Republic and almost to the lands of my Motto forefathers! Sister Green and I made the trek all the way up to the very tippy top of Austria and had an amazing appointment with these members. Schwester Kaindel picked us up from the teeny tiny...and I mean barely-even-there-bahnhof (train station) and drove us around the town. She took us to Schloß Kirchstetten, a palace built in the 16th century. It´s only open during Christmas, but we were able to walk around the property and see more of upmost Northern Austria. The Kaindels made us homemade Knödel and Rotkohl for dinner....pure bliss...I tell ya...Austrian grandmas make THE best food on earth. I never want to come home to American food. We had a lesson on family history, and were able to teach the Kaindels about family search and get accounts set up for them. They were THRILLED!!   Although they live really far away and don´t come to Church each week, the Kaindels do more missionary work than many members I know. It is thanks to them a lot of our members are in our ward today. It was an honor to meet them.

This next transfer in TWO wards and with TWO companions will definitely be an interesting and a challenging one, but I can surely testify that although difficult, Heavenly Father gives us EXACTLY what we need in life in order to become better and to grow. My biggest fear was to be put into a drit, and here I am. Heavenly Father surely has a sense of humor, and I know that He is giving me this mountain so I can become an even more consecrated and diligent missionary. And I definitely feel blessed to have Sister Green and Sister Packer as the two I get to serve with!

No matter how hard (or easy for that matter) our individual paths may be, let us NEVER EVER forget the importance of prayer. It is so important that we "report back" to our Heavenly Father at the end of each day. Although He knows us perfectly, there is a different sense of peace that comes from pouring our hearts out to Him in vocal, private, beautiful prayer. He is there!!! I have never felt Him more in my entire life. As each day passes, I understand just a little more of the genius of God. He is so connected in our lives, and only wishes the best for us. We are His beloved children, and it should be our ultimate goal to return to Him! Return with Honor!!

Have a MAGNIFICENT week meine Lieben! ALLES GUTE DIESE WOCHE!

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Natalie Hannah Motto


In the middle of nowhere…..tippy top of northeastern Austria next to the Czech border

OK…this isn't the German I learned at the MTC….??? What crazy dialect is this?

When we got to our "train station" on the way to northeast Austria….

The Beautiful Belevedere




Monday, February 10, 2014

"We DO have living Prophets!!!"



Hello Family and Friends!!

SERVUS from sunny, bright, blue-skied Vienna! It´s been about 2 weeks since we´ve seen full-on, radiant sunshine, so Sister Green and I are going to soak up this weather and head to Schloß Belvedere today! (A charming and unique castle in central Vienna).  Transfer calls are coming up towards the end of this week and I can honestly say that I have no idea what the next transfer holds for me.  All I can say is that I will go and do what the Lord commands...and with a great big smile on my face!

This week was FANTASTIC!!! We had Zone Training on Tuesday and were able to enjoy Zone Conference the following day. I just want to express how much I LOVE conferences and trainings, when all the missonaries come together, and we get to learn and teach one another. It is such a strength to be among peers who have the exact same goals and desires as you do. It´s powerful in so many ways --We are simply united in purpose and desire. We are THE Army of Helaman!

We had a really neat experience on the way to our stake center (where we had conference) that tied in perfectly of our Zone Conference theme of "Sharing the Message of Living Prophets". Sister Green and I were waiting for our straßenbahn (after just barely missing the first one), when we noticed a cute little tourist shop on the corner. We passed by and said hi to the man working. He asked me what we were doing, and after explaining that we were headed to a meeting with a bunch of our missionaries, he got really excited and said "I see you guys all the time! Who are you and what do you do?" I was able to tell him what we did as missionaries, and as missionaries we are called by a prophet of God to teach people about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This man Moh, seemed to GLOW with true inquisitiveness as he sincerely asked, "We have....prophets? Living prophets?" I was then able to share my testimony that we do indeed have a living prophet named Thomas S. Monson, and that through another prophet, Joseph Smith, we have the FULLNESS of the Gospel and the AUTHORITY of God restored to the Earth today. I told him about the Book of Mormon, and Moh asked how much he could pay to get one. (Needless to say he was even happier to hear the one in my hand was free!) The 15 minutes waiting for the next straßenbahn seemed like only 2. We were able to get Moh´s information and will be meeting with him this week!!  These are the kind of meetings I love...serendipitously, random but perfectly divine.

I know experiences like this one with Moh happen quite often all over the world in missionary work, but I cannot get over the powerful spirit each time it happens to me personally.  To stop and ask various people what they believe AND then to teach them what WE believe.......isn't as easy as it seems...because everyone has their agency. One of the most frustrating things about being a missionary is simply that:  Understanding that every child of God on earth can choose for themselves is often quite heartbreaking.  I am pretty certain that Heavenly Father feels the same way!  How grateful I am for the Atonement and to have re-dos and reviews and to repent. 


Speaking of agency.....every single one of our appointments fell out this week.  Gahhhhh!!!  Each and every one! We were so bummed, and I was very discouraged at first. But then I realized that everything happens for a reason and if all our appointments were falling out and nobody we went by on was home, there must be an individual out there that we needed to find in that moment. Right?  Glass half empty to glass half full:) Conversions don't come easy in this part of the world...it takes so much faith!!  Sister Green and I proceeded to call each potential ever written down in our Area Book, every former investigator, and every less active. We made probably 20 calls before Familie Kaindel, a less active family, answered. The Kaindels live really far away, and are really old, and therefore makes it really hard to come to Church. They were almost in tears when we called. They were so happy to get a call from the missionaries! We were able to set up an appointment for Thursday. (They live in Neudorf, which is literally right on the border of the Czech Republic...so it will be an adventure in itself to get there!)

Thought for this week?  Blessings come when we work --- and have faith.  After our phonecall session and a couple hours of going by on people and street contacting, we got phonecalls from Nicole, Ludwig (the blind actor), potentials, former investigators, and a less active family. We have appointments made for Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with these people! MIRACLES HAPPEN FAMILY!!!

I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for the opportunity and blessing I have had to serve here in this incredible city of Vienna. 

I know that the Lord has been mindful of ME...just like He is mindful of each of you. 


I love you all so much!!!

Schöne Woche meine Lieben!
One of my favorite things to do…accompany on the piano

VIenna Zone Conference February 2014

Monday, February 3, 2014

"Spare it a little longer"


Hallo meine Lieben!

Greetings from a very icy, cold, and still not super snowy Vienna! Although we may be close to freezing each day (just placed an order for thermals on lds.org....) our hearts are burning and are filled with the flame of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

This week was a really decent and overall positive week. Our biggest focus was working with less actives and getting in touch with those Bishop Soucek put on our list. Bishop Soucek really wants us to help the many less actives in our area -- there are a lot -- and offer them any support and service where and when we can. As a missionary, it´s one thing to be teaching investigators and talking to people on the street, and then there is the other aspect of the work which is working with members and less actives. I have come to have such a love for these less active or inactive members. These people are wonderful beloved sons and daughters who may have strayed: I like to relate them to the one sheep who left the other 99. We, as representatives of the Shepherd, go to find these lost sheep, and help them come back to the flock. That makes so much sense to me...we all need each other, in times of need and also out of times of need.  That's why it's so important to find and teach these sweet less actives that not only does the Lord love and need them...but the members in Vienna do too!

In my personal scripture study, I just finished Jacob 5, where Jacob relates the story of the Olive tree. The Lord beckons all throughout these verses for diligent, patient, efficient servants to labor in His field. It is He who leads by example as He digs, nourishes, waters, and protects the vineyard. As His full time missionary, He has commisioned me to go forth and aid Him in this work. Where many people would perhaps abandon the trees that have grown unruly, or have begun to die and whither, it is the Lord that asks me, His servant, "Spare it a little longer" (v. 50) and care for that tree and help it flourish once more.

This week we were able to meet with a fantastic couple who have been inactive for a couple years. Arnulf is from Austria and Michelle is from Jamacia, but at 15 moved to NYC. Michelle began coming to church a couple weeks ago for the first time in about 4 years. I was able to talk with her for a full hour after church with Sister Green and hear all about her conversion story, how she met the missionaries, how she brought her husband to the church, and how she and her husband and son were all sealed in the Madrid temple in 2009. We were able to meet with them on Saturday for lunch. This family live in a cute little dorf about 20 minutes outside of Vienna in Himberg. This darling little Austrian village was soooooo charming and beautiful!  We are excited to work with this wonderful couple to help them come back to Church (upon request of Bishop) to help them prepare to return to the temple later this year.

One evening, Sister Green and I were doing "check-ins" on some less active sisters. We had a feeling to go visit one sister in particular, but she ended up being sick and asked us to come back later. Confused but determined to figure out why we had the prompting to visit her, we exited the building and  literally almost run into a cute older man bringing in his groceries. His pull-trolley with his groceries was quite heavy, and we assisted him to his apartment. His name is Franz and as we talked, we found out that his wife just recently passed away. We were able to tell him about the Plan of Salvation and about what we do as missionaries. We made a return appointment for Thursday evening and we are hoping to offer him peace and comfort about life after death and introduce him to the Book of Mormon.

Today we have an appointment with Ludwig, our blind, former-actor investigator! We are still waiting on his Book of Mormon on CD, so until then we will visit him weekly with Annika (a JAE in our ward) to read the Book of Mormon out loud and teach him the lessons. :)  I wish I could already tell you how it went...but you will have to wait...:)

This week the Elders got in contact with the Böhnel family, a less active family with a 21 year old son and 16 year old daughter. Unknown to us or the ward, Bruder Böhnel was killed in a motor accident early last year. Frau Böhnel is not a member. The Elders called us after they went by, and asked us to make contact with Frau Böhnel (Ingrid) so that we can go bacfk and teach her. She was very excited to hear about the Plan of Salvation, and especially at this time of the anniversary of her husband´s death, I personally am so grateful to have the knowledge and peace that the Gospel brings. I´ll be sure to keep you updated!

Things are going pretty well.  We are excited to teach many of our investigators this week and the ball is definitely rolling in the right direction. We have Zone Training tomorrow and Zone Conference on Wednesday.....There is LOTS going on, LOTS of work to do, and I am simply and heartfully so grateful to be a part of this great and marvelous latter day work. There is truly no better blessing than to be a full time missionary, and I feel SO SO BLESSED to be among His servants!

I love you family! Stay warm, safe, and happy, because I sure am! I think of you each day and am grateful for the strength that supplies me with. I feel your prayers and thoughts, and I pray and hope you know that you are always in mine.

Have a great week!!!!

Alles liebe,

Sister Natalie Motto