Monday, April 28, 2014

The Atonement Soothes All Aches







Hello Family and Friends!! 

Greetings from cold, wet, but nevertheless beautiful Tübingen Germany! I feel like the song from the Prince of Egypt, "When You Believe", fits perfectly for this week. Perhaps Alma 32 does even better….to have the faith of a little seed…. Either way, when we pray for miracles and put forth the effort-- they happen!

Last week as Sister Wunderli and I were going by on a less active sister, we came across a really neat American style RV (somewhat uncommon here). We decided to leave a note and some extra cookies as an Easter surprise, not forgetting our cell phone number. On Monday evening we got a phonecall from Familie Linke, the owners of the RV and proud enjoyers of our snickerdoodle cookies. I talked with Frau Linke for about 15 minutes about their travels in their RV, and how they ended up in Utah. For one year Frau Linke and her husband traveled around the states in their RV, and one of their favorite places was Salt Lake City. They loved the "beautiful cathedral" there, even though they weren't allowed to see the inside. When I told Frau Linke about who Sister Wunderli and I were, she was  excited to know that we were "the cute girls with black nametags." They are currently living in their RV somewhere near Stuttgart, but will be home within the next few weeks. When they get home they want us to come over and get to know them better.  Never underestimate the power of prayer, faith and homemade cookies. 

I was able to go on exchange/Austausch again this week, this time in Stuttgart with Sister Gilmour. SIster Gilmour is great and enthusiastic. She is from AF and we know lots of the same people.  We had such a fun time together!  I love this opportunity to serve as Sister Training Leader, simply for the chance to get to know the other sisters in the zone. Wonderful day!

One small miracle that really made this week a powerful one was that when we found Kim. Sister W and I had been out the entire day, and nobody we went by on was home, or completely rejected us. Discouraged, tired, hungry, and frustrated, we went back to Rottenburg Bahnhof to wait for our train. As we sat and waited, I saw a really cute little mutt, and talked with his owner. The guy named Kim told me that his dog was his best friend. I continued a conversation with Kim about my little Panda. As every conversation goes, Kim asked what Sister W and I were studying, assuming we were students. We told him that we were missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and that we have a message about Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and how His Atonement can heal any ache, soothe any hurting soul, and help each person who ever was, is, and will be, to turn around and have a better life. We told Kim that it is alone through Jesus Christ that we can return to our Heavenly Father and live with our families forever. Kim told us about his Family: he has a two year old son and a wife. Kim has been caught in drugs since he was about 18, and at age 24 was released from jail 3 years ago, after spending 4 years there. He has had a hard life, and Kim told us how he has been praying to God for a way to escape this vicious cycle of addiction and pain. We rode the train with Kim back to Tübingen, and were able to get his email to keep in touch that way. We are hoping to meet him next week with our Bishop after we get back from Munich. Sister Wunderli's and my prayer was answered that we would be able to find someone that day, and it was definitely no "Zufall" that we met Kim when we did. Please keep Kim in your prayers!





Saturday we met with Martin, a really neat guy we talked to on the bus a couple weeks ago. Martin was previously in the Catholic ministery, and grew up strong Catholic, but always felt like something was missing. We brought up the Book of Mormon and he was "sold". We talked about the Atonement and how through it, Martin can stop smoking. He, just like Kim, wants to start his life new. Martin even said that "you two missionaries are an answer to my long said prayers." Pretty amazing, huh?

We had a wonderful eating appointment with our Bishop yesterday. Outside of having to be driven to the airport, take an S-bahn, train, bus, and walk 15 minutes to get home, it was a great appointment and I really got to better know my Bishop and his wife. We talked a lot about the ward mission plan and what we can do personally as sisters, to help build the members here in Tübingen. (Mom and Dad, does the Name Oliver Dobin ring a bell? he was a missionary serving in your Frankfurt ward when you were there at the Marriott.)
The atonement has played a really big role in my studies the past week or two, and that is probably why we have met so many people who have needed to hear it's message. I think, also, because I am more understanding the role of the atonement in my life. I have always had faith in the atonement, and have had a testimony of it, but it has been after time and testing that I have the smallest part of understanding. Faith, testimony, Trial of that faith and testimony, and then a firmer and stronger knowledge: that's the way the Lord works. I now feel the power of the atonement in my life, how it is a gift in which we can rejoice! The Atonement of Jesus Christ makes us happy. We can find peace, assurance, and comfort. The Atonement soothes the deepest and harshest aches of the human soul. It gives us strength to forgive, and shows us the importance of humility when asking forgiveness. 

I am so grateful to be here on a mission. It is the greatest gift Heavenly Father has given me so far in my mortal life. He has given me the opportunity to grow, learn, make mistakes, be humbled, and of course, given the chance to really know my Savior. I know Him better now than I ever have in my life. That's why I am here! To preach, testify, and rejoice in Christ. (2 Nephi 25:26).

I wish you all the best week yet, and never forget how much I love you, and how much I love this work!!!

Your missionary,
Sister Natalie Motto

Monday, April 21, 2014

"You Are the MORMONS!!!"

Hello Family and Friends!!

Courtesy of the local Muslim internet shop here in Tübingen, I am able to write you emails today! Today in Germany and in Austria & Switzerland they are celebrating the second day of Easter, Easter Monday as it is called here, and every shop, bank, postoffice and bakery are closed. Everyone is either at mass or celebrating their day off with family. The streets are pretty bare and the ringing church bells are everywhere! It's also "European grey", foggy, and cold outside -- it's not the most exciting Pday but I'm happy to read emails and letters and write emails home.





I think I found my dream piano! 


Sister Wunderli had a great week together. In the past years, the work in Tübingen has slowed down a little bit but we are determined to pick it back up. Tübingen went from a branch to a ward in just 2 short years quite a few years back just because of the work missionaries did and Sister Wunderli and I are ever more determined to help this ward grow. They are a eager, enthusiastic little ward with a great zest for missionary work. 75% of the active members in the ward has served a full-time mission, and the other 25% are either children or recent coverts. Sister Wunderli and I have started concentrating on the less actives in our ward and updating the ward list for our Bishop. One part of our mission's year long focus is a technique called "Goldmining", introduced to us last May by Elder Teixeria when he visited our mission. Goldmining means that we ask for referrals from these less actives; as many of them have family, friends, and neighbors who are not members of the Church. Trying to find people to teach through these less actives is something President Miles is really encouraging.

This week I went on Austausch (exchange) with Sister Powell in Ludwigsburg, Germany. Another beautiful city!! Sister Powell and I had the chance to teach their new investigator, Louis, with a member named Monique. We went into the lesson prepared to teach the Plan of Salvation, but after we prayed Louis said right away that he could not be a member of this Church. After a few questions and awkward minutes, we found that Louis had recieved an Anti-Mormon article from a friend. In Louis's innocence to find out more about the Church, rather than being directed to a positive website such as Mormon.org or lds.org, a friend lead him down a different path. The story itself is long, but right as I saw that article I looked at Louis and said, "This article is not from our Church. This was written by people who do not like us. These things written in here are false." Sister Powell then bore an AMAZING testimony about descerning right and wrong, and we asked Louis to give the Book of Mormon, praying, and learning about the Gospel just one more chance. Louis is a very faithful man and promised that he would try again. 






After returning home Thursday afternoon from Austausch and dropping off my things, Sister Wunderli and I headed right back outside to meet a former investigator who said she had further interest to learn. Turns out that meeting end up being cancelled but we forged on and end up meeting Lena! ! Lena is about 60 years old, Russian, and a former piano performer. Lena moved to Germany about 20 years ago with her husband, who just recently passed away. On our way home from this appointment that fell out, Lena sat by me on the bus. After asking her for directions of where to catch a different bus (because we were lost) Lena was kind enough to help us find our way. She and I talked for 45 minutes about music, composers, piano, and the Gospel. She thought we were Jehova's Witnesses at first (as everyone does), but once Sister Wunderli brought up the Book of Mormon, Lena got really excited and exclaimed loud enough for the bus to hear "You are the MORMONS!! You people are so nice!!!!" We talked to Lena for a good amount of time, and right when we were going to ask for her contact information she said "Oh, no no no. I'm Jewish. But you sweet girls keep doing what you're doing." And then she ran away.  SIgh.  Although the end of our conversation with Lena was somewhat of a "flop" as Sister Wunderli says, we both know we were meant to meet and talk with Lena. Perhaps in future weeks, months, or even years, Lena will open her heart to hear the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Friday we had interviews and District Meeting with President and Sister Miles. It was C-O-L-D on Friday, but our souls were warmed with delicious crepes and great interviews. In quick chicken-scratch notes after my interview, these were some of the things I wrote:
"President said that gratitude is a gift from our Heavenly Father. When we are grateful for what He has given us, we have faith. When we have faith to obey, we become more grateful for the blessings that come. We need to live obedience until it becomes who we are."  Isn't that just awesome?
President Miles also complimented me on my obedience, enthusiasm for the work and always being a missionary he can rely on. That made me feel good!

Easter was beautiful. How can it not be?  We had wonderful Sacrament Meeting (where I spoke!) and eating appointments after. We got WAY too much chocolate, which I will most likely be sending home. :) During Sacrament Meeting as we sang the hymns, my heart swelled with so much gratitude to be a missionary.  Overall it one of the days where I fought back tears, not of sadness or homesickness, but of so much happiness and hope and beholden to my Maker for allowing me to serve Him.  Even now as I am typing this email....I pause and take a deep breathe so that my emotions don't get the better of me.  I love this country, these people, their hearts, their goodness...even when they are not good to me.  The Savior died for them too and so I owe it to them and to myself to teach as many of them as I can that HE LIVES!!!!!







I love you all. I hope and pray that you make this week the best yet! Reach out to someone in need, or in the very least share a smile and a compliment. Tell somebody you love them. This is the message of the Gospel: It brings JOY!!!!!

Love your missionary,
Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

PS Quotes from Sister Wunderli this week:
"Be happy you just need to use one dictionary." 

Monday, April 14, 2014

"If we just look….miracles are everywhere!"



"Forget Me Not"…..Thank you Elder Uchtdorf
https://www.lds.org/ensign/2011/11/forget-me-not

Dearest Family and Friends,

This week was surely a week of many, many miracles!  If we just look and recognize...miracles are everywhere!

Tübingen is really showing off her "spring-y-ness" to us....all sorts of glorious flowers are in bloom, baby ducks everywhere, everything is a vibrant shade of green and the smell of freshness permeates the air.  I love Spring in Germany!  Breathtaking beauty abounds.  After a incredible General Conference we felt so motivated and energized and our efforts to find people to teach were blessed! This week Sister Wunderli and I focused a lot on meeting with the less active sisters in our ward, and updating our very large less active list. As we traveled out to many small dorfs/villages to go by on these less actives, we didn't see any success.  Almost no one was home, and if they were, we were yelled at or ignored. It was super discouraging. Then, to make matters just that much more stressful, Sister Wunderli left her bus and train pass at home one day, and we both had left our emergency travel money at home. Having to pay with personal money we were finally able to get around, but it was still a frustrating experience. Nonetheless...having been proven time and time again...especially with His missionaries,  the Lord blessed us in our "afflictions" and truly expressed His love as we met Michael, Mirjam, and Claudia!

After emails and grocery shopping on Monday, we saw a man on the bus. I complimented his HUGE ring on his hand, and he laughed and in English replied and told me it was from America. We got talking and this man had seen us board the bus earlier on our way to shopping but shook off the impression to say hello. He asked us who we were, and we talked for about 20 minutes telling him about our role as missionaries and about our message of the Book of Mormon. His name is Michael and he is from Sierra Leone. He has a wife and son in Stuttgart, and his mother lives in Virginia. After explaining to him the "tripod" (prayer, scriptures, church), Michael asked what our ultimate goal was, and what would happen after we taught him everything he needed to know. Sister Wunderli then shared a very simple and powerful testimony about baptism, and how that is the first step and first covenant we make in returning back to Heavenly Father. Michael was very quiet and then after a pause said "You know Sistas? I was thinking about baptism. But I jus' didn't know where to go to do it. I wan' it to be all proper with God and all, you know?" WELL......... One doesn't hear that very often as a missionary. :) We then talked about the Restoration of the Priesthood!! Our lesson with Michael was kind of everywhere, but we managed to stick to the basics in all our excitement, and we will be meeting with him again this week for further teachings.  He was excited and so are we. Miracle #1.

Later in the week we were coming home from the city of Rottenburg, a quaint little place, we were once again discouraged after being denied by everyone we had talked to. Our train stopped way down the platform, and tired and hungry we trugged home. Halfway down the platform a woman stopped us and asked if we dropped our ticket (which we didn't have tickets) and excitedly she began talking with us once she saw we were missionaries. Her name is Mirjam, and she grew up very Christian with very very strict parents. We walked together to the bus stop, and continued talking for another 15-20 minutes. The sweetest Spirit seemed to envelop the three of us with the sunshine as Mirjam told us some concerns and questions she has about life: where we were, why we are here, and where we go. Right on the spot we taught her about the Plan of Salvation and read from Alma 34:32. We are meeting again with Mirjam on Wednesday! Miracle #2.

Great story.....was when we met Claudia. We were on a train, and Sister Wunderli began talking to her about the book she was reading. Somewhere in the conversation Claudia mentioned she was from Vienna, and that's when I butted in and with probably more enthusiasm than needed, told Claudia how I just moved from Vienna. We talked about the city and places I had been, and that lead to Claudia asking "so what are you doing here, exactly?" LOVE that question!! We shared our testimony that, we are as it says in 3 Nephi 5:13, "We are disciples of Jesus Christ" and that we are called of a prophet of God. Claudia did not have much time, but asked that we could meet this week with her and her two sons. She was curious and wants to talk more.  Yep....Miracle #3.

These three stories of Michael, Mirjam, and Claudia are real miracles.  if you only knew how many people don't want to talk about God here -- you would be pretty impressed.  God blesses us when we put forth our best work! As Sister Wunderli and I try to built our sweet little ward and find those less actives, God has blessed us with opportunities to teach. These less actives are lost sheep, and God will not bless us with more sheep when we do not already take care of the ones He has given us to watch over. As He sees we are trying and seeking to find that lost one of the ninety and nine, He sends those who are prepared to hear our message.

This week, especially after thinking about Elder Uchtdorf's talk on gratitude, I simply want to be more grateful. I feel like I express my gratitude to Him often enough, but then He blesses me with more blessings than I could even count. I am so grateful to be a missionary. My wonderful friends and dearest family, I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!! This work is the most rewarding. I have never been so happy in my entire life!! Quoted by Neil L. Anderson in a talk he gave in April 2011 conference, "The blessing of bringing others into the gospel far outweighs anything you will ever sacrifice." And surely, one gives a lot to serve a mission. But when I really think about it, I really haven't given up that much in comparison to what I have gained. Sure I gave up precious family time, schooling, friends and dating, work and money, and who knows what else, but the Lord has COMPENSATED it with blessings. The best word to describe my emotions and thoughts is that I am WHOLE. Here on my mission I have had some experiences that have broken me, but through them and through this incredible opportunity to share the Gospel, I have been made whole. The very Carpenter of Nazareth takes our broken things and makes them whole again. I have seen these blessings of the Gospel not only shape and change my life, but also the lives of those I have been blessed to teach. The Gospel changes people and makes us better. Of this I have a testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the very church Jesus Christ HIMSELF established on the Earth. We have a prophet, who as Moses and Abraham and Nephi and King Benjamin speaks to this people today. We have the precious word of the Book of Mormon, which is a testimony for the Bible and by reading I have come to know for myself it is true.


Our apartment balcony…spoiled much?

Beautiful Tübingen along the Neckar River

Small but mighty.  Our little Tübingen chapel

Love this little ward building and this ward is wonderful!


I am so grateful to be here.....to be His servant, His full-time missionary and follower.  I am eternally grateful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and for the priceless gift of His Atonement.

Have a great week my dear ones!! Until next week!!

Sister Natalie Motto

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2011/11/forget-me-not

Surely we must all bloom where we are planted



"Your Missionaries Love Tübingen Ward!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When in Schwarzwald…….birthing cows and nothing really changes but me

Meine liebe Familie und Freunde,

And just like that.....I'm back in Germany!!! I arrived safe and sound Thursday evening around 7pm in the majestic Black Forest region of Germany, in the quaint, charming, hilly university town of Tübingen. This town is really very beautiful. Our apartment is right on the Neckar, a river that flows right through the middle of the city, and we have a great view of the town. We have a porch and everything! Breakfast has been quite enjoyable the past couple mornings, sitting outside in the fresh spring early morning air. My companion, Sister Wunderli, is from Hungary. She is a hard working missionary, with a great love for the Gospel. She was baptized 6 years ago with her sister and mom. Sister Wunderli has a heart of gold, and serves me constantly. I am excited for the chance to work with her for this next transfer.





Leaving Vienna was bittersweet. It was a moving sight seeing the missionaries run us off, a fun tradition we have here in our mission. (Missionaries who stay in Vienna literally run along the gangplank of the train tracks as the train departs -- they run along side the window of their departing companions.)  The train ride was very long  but beautiful and as we rode through Ulm, Geislingen (Steige), and right through Göppingen, a strange wave of emotion hit me and it felt as though I had never left this place! Not much as changed, and I couldn't help but paralell it with eventual returning home from my mission. After being away from this region for some time, I oddly assumed that dramatic changes would have happened. However quite the contrary is true, not much has changed except for a few small details, and I will realize that in fact I was the one who changed. I am such a different missionary than when I was here in Stuttgart last. My German has improved, my understanding of the Gospel is richer and deeper, and my desire to do more effective missionary work is much stronger. Overall I know that I am a much stronger person and a formidable challenger to the adversary, not afraid to speak up about the Gospel, the truth which will set us all free.  I better understand my role in this missionary world and each day I learn more and more about myself. As I began my mission in Göppingen (about 2 hours NE from here), I got a taste for the sweetness of this work. I could only grow to a certain point when I was in Göppingen and the same is for Vienna. I grew A LOT while in Vienna: I have returned to Stuttgart Zone a little older, wiser, more confident servant of the Lord.  I am feeling very grateful to my Heavenly Father for the chance to serve here in Tübingen and to see how I develop here, and what things I will learn.

I have some sad news. Sister Green informed me that our sweet, blind investigator Ludwig, passed away this week. She got word from our member Anna, and then passed the information to me this morning. Although this news was intitally a surprise and very sad, I am so grateful that Ludwig is in a better place. He was in a lot of pain, and now he is free. He now has the opportunity to continue learning about the Gospel in a place where he can fully learn and understand! I will never forget his last words to us, "Bleib treu in Christus!" Stay true in Christ. What a beautiful message to remember, especially comparing it to the messages shared in General Conference this weekend.

Unfortunately my camera battery died on transfer day and I left my charger in Vienna. Long story short, one of the sisters in Ludwigsburg is charging it for me, and I'll get my charger in a few weeks from Sister Green when she sends it through mission mail. Hence why I have not so many photos.

My first day in Tübingen was VERY interesting and pretty incredible. We got up at 5 am to catch a 6 am train to some little town in the heart of the Black Forest to do a service project for an investigator. Upon arriving, we had to wait for some time before Frau Seeger came to instruct us on garden work. Her son, Thomas, invited us to come in their barn to look at their 40 something cows. It just so happens that as we walked into the barn, we were able to witness a cow giving birth. And we stayed for the whole thing, which lasted somewhere around 30 minutes. That's something you don't get to experience every day!! The baby cow and mama Kuh were doing just great, and I took upon myself naming the little baby Ferdinand.

It's not everyday when you can see a cow be born….but when in Schwarzwald...

Beautiful Tübingen

I absolutely LOVED the Women's Meeting and General Conference! My feelings from conference were mostly those of peace, stillness, and quiet. I think the Lord was reminding me that that is how He works: in stillness. I was reminded that we need to take time to simply Be Still and feel of His presence. Satan is powerful, but not as poweful as our Father in Heaven, and the adversary can by no means duplicate or copy the feelings of peace. It is not in his power. The entire conference I felt so still as I listened to the messages given, and for me that simply testified TRUTH. To everything that was shared this weekend I went to share my testimony and witness that we have living Prophets. They have spoken to us with modern scripture for our day. Did anyone else notice how many messages were directed FOR THE YOUTH? (McKenna, Isabelle, Jameson....I hope you're reading this.) I have such a testimony that the youth today were preserved to fight in this stage of the battle. We are among the strongest to fight Satan with everything we have, and to defend our beliefs. One missionary said something at our last Zone Training that really touched me: are we working as hard as Satan is? Am I giving my ALL to this cause? So many people stand for what they believe, but they don't do it with all the energy they could. Satan is giving his EVERYTHING to bring down God's army. Are we fighting back with just as much force and diligence? Let us use these messages from Conference to better protect ourselves, and to use them as weapons against evil.

The Lord speaks today. He speaks through His apostles and chosen Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. Let us give our all in this fight for the right, to stand up for what we believe. Obey with exactness, hold tight to the rod, uphold and stand for the commandments of God, share the Gospel with exuberance and excitement, 

………..and then let us watch the majesty of God come forth.

I love you all, and wish you all the best this week.

Your faithful little missionary -- back in wonderful Germany!

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto