"What. A. Week. Blessings come after a trial of your faith."
Dearest Family and Friends,
What. A. Week. By far one of the busiest and most interesting of my entire mission, but also a testimony that when we work hard, we are blessed, even though we may not be able to reap the fruits right after planting the seeds.
On Tuesday we had a really funny experience with our investigator Clara. After our district meeting, we took one hour as a district to go through our area books and do a little "clean out." One of our Zone Leaders, Elder Botcherby, was there, and he gave Sister Green and I a record that belongs in our area. Turns out to be the record for our investigator Clara, with whom we set a baptismal date for April 20. After reading through her record, we found out that Clara has had EIGHTEEN baptismal dates with various missionaries in different wards over the past 10 years, and even filled out a baptismal record. There have been 3 too many times where the font was filled and people in attendance at the baptism, but Clara never showed up. WELL, being the 19th and the LAST baptismal date to be set, after much prayer and talking, Sister Green and I decided to drop Clara, and focus our energy elsewhere. When she truly is ready for baptism, we explained to her that she is more than welcome to meet with Bischof Soucek and talk things out with him.
Wednesday we met with Natasha, a woman we called up two weeks ago and gave her a Book of Mormon. During our lesson (which went really well, by the way!), Natasha recieved a text message. After reading it, she paused, and then excitedly looked at us and said "I can tell you now! My nephew has just been elected as the President of Serbia!" Well, we were most definitely surprised at that news, and because she was so excited, we ended our appointment a little bit early. We ate Croatian oranges and listened to Bosnian folk music, and then commited her to read in Alma 32. Natasha is a really sweet lady, but has a lot of energy and not a very large attention span because she loves to talk, talk, talk! We invited her to dinner with a member, Angela, who is from Croatia, and we are hoping they make a good bond, having so many similarities.
Thursday we went once again all the way to Laa an der Thaya to help Familie Kaindel in a service project. The Kaindels own 3 homes and are preparing two of them to sell, but the yards were Austrian jungles. The Elders and Sister Green and I labored diligently for 5 long hours in the welcome, warm sunshine, and got a lot done! My weak missionary arms were sore for the next couple days, but as I told Sister Green, the first day of spring isn't complete without yard work! (I felt right at home -- reminds me of those many spring days working with Dad, Mom and even Papa in our yard) ! It felt really good to get down in the dirt and get my fingernails dirty! The Kaindels were so grateful, and they came to church yesterday for the first time in six months just to say thank you! I talked with Brother Kaindel after, and he said each time he looks at the work we did for him, he begins to cry. He also felt so good to be back at church, and he said he and his wife will make the two hour drive sacrifice to come back again next week, and the week after, and the week after. Now doesn't that just bring a warm fuzzy into your heart?
Friday we met with two potentials, Bashir and Alena. Consequently, the both of them wanted to meet at Stephan's Platz, and their appointments were within just an hour of each other. Our meeting with Bashir was excellent, and outside of giving him a Spanish Book of Mormon instead of a French one, we had a great meeting and look forward to our next appointment Tuesday.
As we waited to Alena in front of Stephansdom, enjoying the beautiful springtime weather, I heard "SISTERS!!" (You always know that mormons are in the neighborhood when you hear that) and turn to see 4 people rush toward Sister Green and I. Two of them, Elder and Sister Nye, were a missionary couple serving in the Czech-Slovak mission, and were visiting Vienna with their daughter and her husband for a day. We had a great discussion with the Nye's, and as we talked we felt so encouraged and supported. It was comforting to me to realize that no matter where we go in the world, we are known by members and nonmembers a like, and to have that support as a full-time missionary is priceless.
Our appointment with Alena was somewhat of a flop.....she is from Slovakia, and it was neat to talk to her about my ancestors from there. She even recognized the name Matta as a Slovakian name! However, Alena said she wanted to meet with us in person to tell us she did not have interest, than doing it on the phone, because she felt like it was more polite. At least it was a face-to-face break up -- a little rare nowadays but nonetheless effective and she was really sweet about it.
Friday evening we were able to attend the Relief Soceity party for the anniversary of the Relief Society! Sister Green and I made brownies and gave a short presentation on the RS in the USA, what kind of activities we do, etc. It was so neat, and the sisters LOVED the pictures of and the letter from the Lindon 21st ward sisters!
Saturday we experienced small but mighty miracles as we participated in a new Vienna Zone activity called "Power Hour". From 3-4 pm each Saturday, all the missionaries in our Zone (close to 30 missionaries) will dedicate that hour strictly to finding. We called members before and asked them to pray for us as we were out during this power hour. Sister Green and I saw miracles! Each person we talked to in this hour, which was close to 15, we had a really good discussion about the Gospel with. We found a new potential investigator named Sunny, and will be meeting next week! Although we may have not set 5 baptismal dates and found 20 new investigators, Sister Green and I went home feeling SO GOOD in knowing that we worked really hard and it payed off.
This week I felt so incredibly blessed, and really felt the support of prayers and thoughts as I went about each day. My testimony of faith has also grown a lot this week. Sometimes we hit personal "ruts", or low points where we get discouraged and occasionally very beat down by the winds of the adversary. But as we continually hold fast to our ultimate source of strength, prayer and our Savior Jesus Christ, even when at first the burden doesn't seem to be lightened, the light and relief will surely come. Awareness of our weaknesses and shortcomings is not something that bring us down, in fact it should build us up, in knowing that we are not perfect and that we can indeed improve! How even more grateful I am for my loving Savior Jesus Christ, and for His Atonement, that I can repent and be made better.
I love you, pray for you, and wish you all the best this next week!