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."