Monday, July 28, 2014

Off to See the Wizard and A Baptism

Dearest Family,

Well, your little "Munchkin" is headed on the yellow brick road of transfers, in the direction of the big, beautiful, Bavarian city of Munich!!  This week I'll be packing my things once again and on Thursday I bid farewell to the Rapunzel, fairytale town of Tübingen, and head to the Munich 2 ward (same ward as the Kohlers and the AP's).  I'm very excited!! I will be working with Sister Peterson, who trained Sister Pentz! 

This week was just wonderful. I went on great exchange with Sister Powell here in Tübingen. We had the chance to meet with Pia again with the Elders, and things went opposite of what we first thought. Originally we thought she would be ready for baptism, but rather she said she felt things were moving too quickly, and wanted a pause for a while. She said she would continue to read in the Book of Mormon, and then after her "Urlaub" in September, she'll give the Elders a "ring" and let them know her thoughts. At the end of the appointment she had us sign her Book of Mormon. Pia said she'd miss her "Short blonde Sister." I found it a compliment when I pretended to have a British accent when she said I sound like I am from the Cheltenham area (English genes coming through a bit).....she then asked if I knew where that was. Thanks to Grandpa Kenneth, I do! :) 

Lian had her baptismal interview this past week, and yesterday was her baptism!!  This cute 10 year old was so happy!! It was a neat experience being able to see her whole family there. A family, who was once less active and separated, has worked really hard to come back together to make this eternal family work. Since I got here in April they have made so much progress, including getting callings and coming to church each week, and yesterday the beginning of the end goal was seeing Lian baptized. Lian asked me to share my testimony at her baptism,it was a honor and such a special experience for me. Lian looked beautiful, and I am so happy for this little 10 year old!  

What a wonderful day!!!

This week on the way to an appointment with Valeria (who just proudly sent off her letter to the Royal family), we met a woman on the bus named Konstanza. We complimented her really cute bag, and the first thing she said was "we've talked before." Racking our brains to figure out exactly how we've talked with Konstanza before, she reminded us that we talked about one month ago on the train going to an appointment, and that we had discussed the Germany-USA game. The conversation continued and Konstanza began asking questions about who we exactly were and what we were doing here in Germany. We told her we were missionaries and had a message about faith, hope, and how we can find healing through our Savior Jesus Christ. Konstanza listened carefully and then quietly said, "I wish I could have that in my life too." We began a discussion about God, and what her perspective of Him is. She said that she has felt Him most in her life when she listened to music. The prompting then came to me to give this woman, who truly has seen so much hardship in her life, a copy of Lyceum Philharmonic's "The Master" that I had in my bag. It was originally planned for another less active that we were going to meet with, but I could not deny the powerful prompting I had. Konstanza afterward gave me the biggest hug, wrapping her thin arms around me and said "Thank you!" In the haste of "umsteiging" to our next bus we completely forgot to get her number, but we left her with ours and are praying that she contacts us.

Something funny this week......we got locked out of our apartment! And there was bread in the oven!! We went to ask our neighbor for some baking soda when the door to our apartment suddenly slammed closed. The doors here in Germany don't have the incredibly convenient twisty doorknobs like in the States.....we were left barefoot, hair up on our heads, and phone-less. We frantically began to klingel all of our neighbors, and no one answered. Scared that our bread was going to burn, we contemplated completely exiting the building and climbing up the emergency escape ladders, when our neighbor across the hall answered his door. (For a funnier picture this man looks like Carson from Downton Abbey). I explained everything as quickly as I could, asked if we could borrow his phone to call the Elders who have our spare, and not saying anything and quite solemnly "Carson" brought me his phone. I made my frantic call to the Elders, who were luckily only about 10 Mu away, and then gave the phone back. I said thanks to Carson, and again, without a word, he closed his door. It was awkward/very hilarious, and Sister Pentz and I had to stifle our laughter as we pitifully sat outside of our door. The Elders made good timing to our apartment, thundering up the stairs, and we were able to rescue our very, very, very brown Zopf. :)

This week, over the course of the events that have played through, I have learned the simpleness and beauty of FAITH. Faith is something so pure and fine, that it makes no sense to make it complicated, as many seem to do. Just as Alma says in Alma 32, that when we even have the desire and wish to believe, then it will grow. It takes precious time, and thankfully our Heavenly Father is that Master of Time. He has His perfect ways and His perfect timing, and I am so grateful that I have these 18 months to progressively perfect having faith. Faith makes us whole. It is a lifeline. Just as a body needs nourishment to continue growing, so does our faith. I am so grateful for the scriptures, for my lifeline of daily prayer, and for the peace and wholesomeness I feel during the Sacrament.

Never forget that Faith without works is dead. Show your faith! Live your Faith!

I'm A Mormon Missionary.
I Know It.
I Live it.

Your Alpine Miss,

Monday, July 21, 2014

"This Work is Tough Stuff but It Bring So Much Joy"

Dearest Family and Friends,

This week was very.....spannend (exciting). It started off last Pday getting hit with some sort of ridiculous torrential downpour after a very hot and humid week. We were with our Tübingen Elders, Elders Byers and Nelson, and went to visit a less active man in our ward together. On the way home from his appointment is when the rain and thunderstorm really hit, and with no other source of transportation home, the 4 of us braved the 20 minute walk back to the train station. We were already pretty wet when a car driving up to the 4 of us sped up and went right through a puddle. The four of us were then COMPLETELY soaked!!! We all got a great laugh out of it, and at least it was the end of our day. We thought of perhaps what the driver was thinking "Yes! 4-in-1 Mormon missionaries!"

This week I was able to do splits again with my wonderful friend Sister Winters!! After a really great Zone Training meeting on humility and prayer, we headed south to Tübingen. Upon our arrival we needed to burn a CD for a project we are doing for a less active (remember Valeria's story of writing the Royal Family? We finally finished the letter.) and overheard a man speaking American english. It was almost automatic how fast Sister Winters and I turned to him and said "So, where ya from?" Sean is from New York, works for the army, lives near Stuttgart, and has MISSIONARY FRIENDS serving in Poland and (previously in) Ukraine!!! We talked to him for about 30 minutes, right there in the internet shop, and afterward Sean asked for the church address in Stuttgart so he could come and get an idea for "exactly what his friends believe". It was so neat!! (A taste of what it would be like to serve in the USA!)

We met again with Marion this week. We went with our cute Young Women's leader Schwester Häring, and taught Marion the beginning parts of the Restoration. We talked a lot about prayer and how we get answers- through the gift of the Holy Ghost. Marion was so touched and kept saying she had a wonderful feeling in her heart. We're taking her for a tour of our church building this Thursday and again with Schwester Häring will finish teaching the Restoration. Sadly Christina was not able to be present, but we are meeting with her tonight.

We also met with the Elders' investigator Pia, a sassy and clever Yorkshire Brit whose mother was a member of the Church. Pia's relationship with her mother was incredibly strong, and when Pia's mom died last February, she wanted to know a little more about what her mother believed. So she turned, just as Elder Nelson said in General Conference, to the missionaries. We had an English breakfast together, complete with beautiful blue and white china and Caro. We talked a lot about answers to prayers, the Restoration, and how we get answers to prayers. At the end of the appointment we all prayed together on our knees, Pia offered the prayer. Afterward she grabbed her heart and said "I guess Mum was right!" We're going again with the Elders Wednesday (upon Pia's request) to see if she prayed about the Book of Mormon, and hopefully to set a baptismal date!!

This week I've been studying a lot about answers to prayers, particularly after our mission's focus on prayer and after Pia's appointment. In my personal study of the Book of Mormon, having just finished the chapters in 1 Nephi and getting on into the stories such as Enos, I began to reflect on how I receive personal revelation.The Lord knows us perfectly, and already knows what is there, but let's all remember how important and what a treasured time it is to spend one-on-one time with Him in prayer. Day and night. Let it become your LIFELINE.

I love what President Kimball says,

The blessing of revelation is one that all should seek for. Righteous men  and women find that they have the spirit of revelation to direct their families and to aid them in their other responsibilities. But … we must seek to qualify for such revelation by setting our lives in order and by becoming acquainted with the Lord through frequent and regular conversations with him...Remember: If there be eyes to see, there will be visions to inspire. If there be ears to hear, there will be revelations to experience. If there be hearts which can understand, know this: that the exalting truths of Christ’s gospel will no longer be hidden and mysterious, and all earnest seekers may know God and his program.

It is my testimony that God hears us! He hears us and answers us because He loves us. There can be no other explanation!!

I love being a missionary. This work is tough stuff. But it has brought me so much inexplicable joy, that I cannot imagine my life without such a gift as my mission. I haven't been perfect, but I've given it all I've got. I am so grateful for this Gospel and for the testimony that HE LIVES!!

I love you all!! Have a magnificent week!!

Your Little "Alpine Miss"

Sister Natalie Motto

Monday, July 14, 2014

What A Great Day It Is To Be A Missionary In This Beautiful Land of Germany!

Dearest Family and Friends,

FIrst things first.......WIR. SIND. WELTMEISTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(.....and for those of you who need translation or who slept through the tsunami-size excitement of this entire nation:  WE ARE THE WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!)

Jumping for Joy!!! "I love being a missionary!" 
What a great day it is to be a missionary in the beautiful land of GERMANY. It's always been that way, BUT whoa...... what an even MORE amazing time it is at this moment! Pretty neat to live here and to experience what it feels to have Das beste Team der Welt win the World Cup!!  It was pretty insane last night around 12:45 AM when horns, whistles, drums, pots and pans, fireworks, car horns, shouts, screams, cheers left no possibility for anyone or anything to sleep. Admist our confusion of being startled awake, Sister Pentz leaned over the bunkbed and asked me "Is this the Sleeping Giant everyone talks about happening in Germany?" Perhaps not quite......but it was still an awaking of gigantic proportions, that's for sure. Wow, the Germans --and many throughout the world--are pretty excited about we are too:)

This week was another surprising and crazy adventure. It started off last Monday as Sister Pentz and I decided to go visit Schloß Lichtenstein near the city of Reutlingen. We got off the bus and asked a farmer which pathway we needed to take to get to the Schloß. What he told us sounded a little bit like "gruff gruff gruff gruff gruff", so we thanked him and then followed the path that said "Schloß Lichtenstein, 2 km". We rationalized it not to be a bad walk, only about 1.5 miles, so Sister Pentz and I began our walk.

We don't need to get into too much detail........ but I can tell you that our "short hike" ended up taking 3 hours, getting lost, and walking 10 km. But we did eventually reach the castle (AMAZING by the way), took pictures, and even got to talk for 20 minutes with 4 British motorcyclists about the Church! I guess you could say it was worth it, until we realized we were completely stranded at this castle with no way of getting home. There was no bus system that went up that far that late in the day, and we didn't want to risk hiking back down the hill and get lost again. After praying, a few tears, and then calling our GML (ward mission leader), a member came and picked us up. (And just in time too! Later that night this area got hit really hard with heavy rain and incredible lightening.) Lesson learned on triple and quadruple checking plans? CHECK.

Sister Pentz and I met with Marion again this week, our cute investigator we found dooring on Finding Day a couple weeks ago. When we showed up at our appointment, Marion's friend Christina was there. Christina is a stereotypical "rough edged/no-nonesense/I-have-my-religion" German, and she was almost accusatory as we began our lesson with Marion. After 45 minutes of explaining her beliefs and thoughts on God, during which we couldn't manage to get a word in, Christina said "Ok. Your turn. Convert me." I was personally a little caught off guard but Sister Pentz  chimed right in and was an example of patience as we began our lesson with God is Our Loving Heavenly Father. We talked about the gift of the Book of Mormon, of living prophets, and of families. After the lesson we prayed and set up another appointment for this week, and then walked with Christina to the bus stop. For the next 25 minutes between waiting for the bus and getting to the Train Station, Christina had a complete change of heart. Sister Pentz and I witnessed a modern day Alma right before our eyes! This woman was so cold, so hard, loud, and unreceptive, and by the time we got off the bus (after getting her number and Information) to someone who was soft, gentle, quiet, and submissive and wanting to learn. We got off the bus, and Sister Pentz and I looked at each other in a way worthy of a movie, with big eyes and surprised expressions. Never before have I witnessed the Spirit work in such a way. It was simply beautiful. (We're meeting once again with Christina this week as well.)

This week we went to Munich and were able to enjoy time with President and Sister Kohler at Mission Leadership Council. It was a neat opportunity to get to know them a little bit better on a more personal level. We discussed a lot of the policies and rules of the mission, and talked about the various qualities of the missionaries of our mission, the "personality" of our mission, so to say. I got a little teary eyed as missionaries kept raising their hands and expressed their thoughts, describing our missionaries as diligent, obedient, hard working, caring, personable, humble, positive, humorous, loving, kind, thoughtful, impressive, dedicated, focused. I am sure it was just as powerful for President Kohler, because he then shared his testimony of how blessed HE feels to be here, and that meant a lot, especially as he is our new President. It is always, always important to know you are loved, and President Kohler expresses his love so perfectly. He is what this mission needs! 

I too am so grateful to be here!! I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And in my imperfections as His servant, I have gone about my mission, and learned experience after experience, I have recognized and learned that perfection is a process. The very element of PROGRESSION is PERFECTION. As we focus on prayer--oh, how we need the healing and strengthening power of prayer--and as we focus on becoming more like the Savior, we are well on our way to perfection. The Lord commands us to be perfect, and He does not give us any commandment by which it is impossible to achieve.  Joy is just a small and miniscule blessing of perfection. Can you even begin to imagine the flood of blessings awaiting us who strive for perfection each day we live? A mission is refining, because we are about doing His work. In my heart, I know there is no better way to become more like the Savior than to be about doing His work. And what an incredible, humbling, and incomprehensible thought that is......that I am numbered, and called to help gather and number His sheep.

I love you all dearly. I hope you know that. I hope you also know that I am praying for you.....I know I say that each week, but I mean it. Prayer is powerful. Prove the Lord's blessings and PRAY.

 "6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut‍ thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth‍ in secret, shall reward thee openly."
3 Nephi 13:6 (Also Matthew 6:6)

I love you all. Have the most wonderful week.

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hola from this German "Gringita"….Sister Motto serving in the Alpine Mission

Hola Family and Friends!!

One would think we were in South America --it's been so warm and über-humid here in Germany! We got hit with really heavy rain last night which generally in Utah would have cooled the place in southern Germany it does the opposite! This morning it is like a sauna....HOT and HUMID again!  But that is not going to get us down...we have embraced our South American-like weather and to celebrate the nature of our climate,  Sister Pentz and I had a  really fun appointment with a Chilean family in our ward yesterday for Sunday dinner, where we enjoyed delicious homemade Chilean food. The son of the Apablaza's, Alvaro started calling me "Hermana Gringita", which I guess means "Little white North American Sister Missionary." So that's my new name! And Sister Pentz is Hermana Gringorta.....Big White North American Sister Missionary. :) We had lots of fun and enjoyed the chance to switch cultural settings for an afternoon. I really love these humble sweet people so I can see why so many missionaries who serve in places like Chile and Brazil bond so quickly with them.  I have 4 wonderful and fortunate cousins who are blessed to serve in South America! 

This week was a really good and busy week. For starters, last Pday we decided to experience some of the regional culture. (as there is SO much history and incredible architecture in this part of the world..why wouldn't we?) We discovered an incredible find in the Bebenhausen Monestary, which is just 20 minutes outside of Tübingen. It was really neat!!! Sister P and I had headsets where we were able to listen to narrations of how the monks lived, and about the different locations in the monestary. It was absolutely beautiful!! In some parts there were signatures on the walls with dates, and it was crazy to think that some of the names were written 400 years before America was even founded!!  Founded around the late 1100's, Bebenhausen is one of the best preserved Cistercian monasteries in all of Germany. I enjoyed the beauty of the stunning Gothic architecture in all it's elegant glory....very light and airy and not the least bit dark and dreary.  I could see why so many monks wanted to study there.  Even the manicured gardens were incredible works of art. 

We met with Anni this week, a Finnish lady who just moved into our ward. She served her mission in Frankfurt about 10 years ago, and two weeks ago with her husband moved to Germany for work. Anni's husband is not a member, and through negative experiences has not wanted to learn about the Church. Anni said that when she and her husband got to Germany and saw the brownies Sister Wunderli and I made for them, Anni's husbands heart was softened right away and asked that the Sister missionaries come visit them. The time we set up the appointment sadly was a time when he wasn't home, but it was then we made a "game plan" with Anni. Anni is AWESOME, and we're almost "zu dritt" (a team) with her. Sister Pentz and I have begun a very wonderful friendship with this solid, wonderful Finnish sister. We are hopeful that we can begin to teach her husband very soon so that they both can enjoy the eternal blessings of the Gospel. 

Here is something which doesn't happen every day.... Sister Pentz and I wrote the Royal family this week!! Yep.."THE" in Buckingham Palace. No joke. Valeria, a less active woman in our ward, is an aspiring artist, and after working 3 years on a painting of the late Princess Diana, she wants to sell it. To the royal family. Valeria speaks no English, so she asked Sister Pentz and I to translate. In exchange for our translation, we got to give her a lesson. She loved our deal so much that she wants us to come weekly to teach her the Preach My Gospel lessons, and she is inviting her neighbors across the street to come listen as well. Apparently, they have 5 very musical that will be fun!

Our 4 of July was not as exciting as we had hoped (no fireworks on this day for us...:) , but it was still fun. We "celebrated" by enjoying Burger King for lunch and then did our weekly planning. Not realizing the game between Germany and France that day, Sister Pentz and I wore our patriotic red white and blue!.....BIG OOPS!!! (You should have seen the looks we got..)  We were able to hear the Germany-France game all through our planning session from the crowd watching it at the pub below our apartment, and we were very pleased to hear our beloved Deutschland won!! Onto the semifinals!!!! (I am pretty sure I could hear MY FAMILY screaming and rejoicing of GERMANY's win)

Very early Saturday morning we went with the entire Zone to Munich for a combined Munich-Stuttgart Zone Conference. We were able to greet and get to know President and Sister Kohler in companionship interviews. Change is always a little hard (and we can apply this to all stages of life, wherever we may be) but as we prayerfully approach the Lord with concerns and questions, He always answers. And I got an answer! As I sat in the conference listening to President Kohler, the Spirit softly and gently testified to me that he really is the man called to lead our mission at this time. The Miles' left an incredible legacy, and I know the Kohler's are here to simply build upon the foundation left by missionaries and mission presidents before. I am SO excited to work with such another amazing man and already we LOVE his wonderful family!!!

We're off to Munich (again) in just a few days for Mission Leadership Council. I feel so blessed for the chance to get to know President Kohler on a more personal level while serving as Sister Training Leader!

I love you all!! Have a MARVELOUS week!!!  The Gospel is wonderfully, beautifully, perfectly true and the Lord lives and loves us all! 

Your little "Gringita" missionary,

Sister Natalie Motto