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

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