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.