Monday, August 25, 2014

By Small and Simple Things……..

Dearest Family and Friends,

This week was by far one of my favorites here in Munich. It started off with an awesome Pday last week to Schloß Nymphenburg -- an elegant baroque summer palace for the many kings of Bavaria and guess what? It's in my own back yard!! Munich is unbelievably awesome! Later that evening we spent such a delightful Family Home Evening with Sister Kohler, Tanner, and Erika. Sister Kohler invited at last mintue a member named Svetlana, who brought her mother visiting from Moldova. Her mother, unbeknownst to Sister Peterson and I, decided she wants to be baptized, was being taught by the Zone Leaders, and at last notice was baptized on Sunday! Elder Vitel, one of the Romanian Elders who is one of our Zone Leaders, baptized her, and translated everything from German to Romanian and visa versa. It was a beautiful way to start off our Sunday yesterday!

Schloss Nymphenburg in Munich

Tuesday we met with the Muntean family one last time before they left for their 3 week trip to Romania.  I am so thrilled to report that the two of them have been reading in the Book of Mormon regularly!! They've been praying, reading, and asked us where the missionaries are in Romania, or even if they had missionaries in their town. We sent their information through our Mission Office to the mission in Romania, and will soon be in contact with the missionaries there about the Muntean's progress. They are such a special and neat family! Herr Muntean was explaining that he enjoys reading the Book of Mormon, but that he doesn't always understand it, so he needs to read the passages two or three times. He said "I think it's because my faith is really small right now." And then, my friends, where did we missionaries then turn to in the Book of Mormon? ALMA 32! Adrian LOVED the analogy of a seed being planted, growing, being nourished, and one day blossoming into a strong and mighty tree. We explained to him and Adela the importance of going step by step, and how day after day they will add to their knowledge and understanding of the Gospel if they simply do what we commit them to do. They both committed, and promised to do it with Nikolina as well, to read and pray and meet with the missionaries while they are in Romania. The Muntean's are one incredible, faithful, devoted family. And they get a kick out of my name, and have given me the nickname "Sister Thema". (kind of another word similar to "Motto")

We were able to meet with both Tenzin and Nga Wang this week. It's been an interesting journey finding a balance between what to teach Tenzin--who already belives in Christ, knows the Book of Mormon to be true, and is preparing for baptism--, and then what to teach Nga Wang, who we are teaching that Jesus is the Christ -- starting at the beginning, so to speak. We were able to teach, in the most basic and simple terms, the Plan of Salvation to Nga Wang. At the end of the lesson, when Sis. Peterson and I weren't quite sure what/how much Nga Wang understood, and were about to leave, Nga Wang looked at us with the most childlike and eager expression, putting his hands together and said "pray?" Talk about a HUMBLING moment! This man, who was previously a Tibetian monk, asked US... if we could pray at the end of the lesson.  His heart is in the right place, and Nga Wang said that if he comes to know that Christianity is true, he will do anything and everything to give his life up for it.

At last minute last week, the Elders invited us in behalf of the Haueter family, to go Thursday evening for a dinner appointment with the Haueter's, an American family in our ward. We weren't sure how far the appointment was, and when the Elders typed into the Navi where the Haueters lived, we were shocked that they lived over an hour away. While driving, we went more and more south, passing Starnberg, Tutzing (the most Southern areas I've been to in my zone so far).....then I began to notice road signs that said "Garmisch-Partenkirchen." I didn't want to get my hopes up, but after 30 minutes I couldn't help it once I saw the first glimpse of the majestic Bavarian Alps on the horizon. We drove for another 25 mintues or so, right into the heart of these mountains, to find ourselves in the middle of town in GARMISCH!!!!!!! Sister Peterson and I have been praying and figuring out a way to get to Garmisch, either for Pday or to go find, but with a 2 hour train ride, it was never super appealing. Through a simple dinner appointment, we were able to enjoy the breathtaking view from the Haueter's home, enjoy American burgers and rootbeer, and sit at the foot of the Zugspitze and talk about the Atonement. WHAT AN EVENING. My heart ached to be back in the mountains and I was so grateful for the tender mercy of the simple invite from the Haueter's to make my heart's wish come true :)

Driving on our way to Garmish-Partenkirchen

This week, more so after the Muntean's appointment, I began studying the importance of small and simple things in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have noticed the power and strength that comes from STEP by STEP, day by day, building upon and adding to our faith and our testimonies. As of late, I have been reading a favorite CES Fireside talk from Elder D. Todd Christofferson called "Give Us This Day our Daily Bread". Elder Christofferson shares  the importance of partaking of our "daily bread", or the spiritual nourishment for our spirits. Just as the human body needs nourishment day by day, so does our Spirit, otherwise we become weak and susceptible to the elements of distraction, temptation, and the storms of the adversary. By this thought of "small and simple things", it isn't through drastic amounts of bread that we get the nutrition and nourishment we need. What good does it do to eat a giant loaf of bread on Monday, and expect to stay full until the following Sunday? By partaking of our spiritual daily bread--daily scripture reading, daily prayer, and weekly church attendance, all the primary answers!--will we receive the strength to go on and continue forward with faith. I love what Elder Christofferson says,

In reality, there aren’t very many things in a day that are totally without significance. Even the mundane and repetitious can be tiny but significant building blocks that in time establish the discipline and character and order needed to realize our plans and dreams. Therefore, as you ask in prayer for your daily bread, consider thoughtfully your needs—both what you may lack and what you must protect against. As you retire to bed, think about the successes and failures of the day and what will make the next day a little better. And thank your Heavenly Father for the manna He has placed along your path that sustained you through the day. Your reflections will increase your faith in Him as you see His hand helping you to endure some things and to change others. You will be able to rejoice in one more day, one more step toward eternal life.

It is my hope and prayer that we all take the time to partake of our daily substance. I know and have seen the blessings here of it here on my mission. Granted, I do have a wonderful whole 2 hours each day dedicated to this study, but even 10 minutes will suffice! Give the Lord just the smallest amount of time to shower the blessings of heaven upon you.

I love you all, and wish you the best of weeks!!
Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Your Alpine Miss ;)

Monday, August 18, 2014

How Sweet is His Work!

Liebe Familie und Freunde,

Man......I just love being a missionary. The fact my whole life is enveloped in the opportunity to teach people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, devoting each minute to this work......I cannot imagine my life WITHOUT my mission. These 18 months have become engraved on my soul and have forever changed my perspective of eternity. For these precious moments--whether they be incredibly difficult or incredibly rewarding--are moments I will never, ever take back.

Der Glockenspiel in Munich

Sister Peterson is just the best! I LOVE working with her! We have so much fun together, but at the same time we both know how to buckle down and "get work done". I've learned a lot from Sister Peterson in the past few weeks, and I am really grateful for her example of patience, love, and sincerity.

Planning Day….playing a game to motivate us to plan better and speak better German…:)

Last Monday we were able to go see the beautiful Starnberger See with Schwester Djantar. Although a little rainy and cloudy, it was still breathtaking!! Following such an eventful Pday, Sister Peterson and I went by on a referral we got from Italy a few weeks ago for a man named Klaus. Klaus has been in Italy and Russia getting leg surgeries, and after a month of waiting, we thought we would go by to see if he was back in Munich. We arrived at the address, found Klaus' name on the klingel, rang, and were let in!! "Yes!!" we thought, but then we quickly realized we didn't know what level Klaus lived on in this HUGE apartment building. So what did we do? We tag-teamed it, and SIster Peterson and I checked ALL the doors on ALL the floors for Klaus' name on the door.....and we didn't find it. After 15 frustrating and quite humorous minutes, we went back outside to klingel Klaus one more time to make sure us being let in wasn't an accident. We rang a second time and we were once again let in, and right when we walked through the door I noticed a small white "3" next to Klaus' name. I asked Sister Peterson if we checked the 3rd floor, and realizing we didn't, we rushed to the elevator, only to be greeted in the elevator by none other than KLAUS. On crutches and completely puzzled, we quickly explained who we were and that we wanted to see how he had been doing, all while the elevator doors kept opening and closing during our conversation. Klaus found the situation only semi-humorous (wouldn't blame the guy), and thankfully still agreed to meet with us later on this coming week. It was probably the most awkward contacting a potential moment on my mission so far.......

We had a great Zone Training this week and following I was able to have a fantastic exchange with the darling Sister Arnold in Passau! Sister Arnold is the most tender hearted and thoughtful missionary I know. I had the priviledge of knowing her in Stuttgart when she was getting trained by my good friend Sister Winters, and I am so impressed with how much she has already grown as a missionary. In her third transfer, it already seems like she's in her 6th or 7th. She's confident, loving, and fearless to do missionary work. I'm so grateful that I have the chance to do exchanges with the Sisters in the Zone and get to knwo them better!! :)

After we changed back from exchanges, Sister Peterson and I helped an Italian family who were lost find their way back to their hotel. They recognzied our nametags and knew they could trust us, because they've been taking English classes from the missionaries in Italy!! So neat!! Gibt's keine Zufälle in diesem Werk, ge? (Translation: There are no coincidences in missionary work)

We met with T this week and helped him put a gigantic rug into an attic, and he showed us a Tibetian temple here in Munich....which happens to be on the top floor of an apartment building. It was really beautiful! T also came to a baptism for a woman in Munich 4 ward this weekend, and he's all the more excited for his baptism at the end of this year!!

We met with my favorite Romanian family again this week. Adrian has NOT SMOKED in the 2 weeks since he completed the Stop Smoking Program. As a family, Adrian, Nikolina, and 15 year old Adele are all reading the Book of Mormon together, and this weekend we taught them about prayer. Nikolina said a half Romanian-half German verbal prayer, and it was one of the most spiritual and sweetest experiences on my mission so far. This family is SO prepared, but has a lot of questions and doubts that are preventing them from progressing at the speed they are capable.,...could you dear friends and family please, please pray for them?

Last of all, we met with the hilarious Nigerian less active family in our ward with lots of kids, attitude, and who love God. 16 year old Regina, who just came back from EFY (called FSY here in Germany) told us how much she loved her experience there, and wants to go on splits with us more often! She came and played football (soccer) with us and the other missionaries Saturday afternoon, and is going to start inviting her friends and her less active brother. Yay for missionary work!! :)

This week has been one of those weeks that I just think to myself of how BLESSED I am to be here. I live in one of the most beautiful cities in Germany, and I have these daily "am I really here?" moments. The surreality of being here I had as a golden has not left, and I am so grateful for it. It makes each moment a little bit sweeter to recognize that I have the blessing of being in a land among a people that are so dear to me and my family. It's one of those "now I know EXACTLY what Mom and Dad mean" things. I am so grateful to be a missionary.

Wonderful members and friends from Tübingen Ward visiting in Munich

I think that's one of the great blessings here in this life, that we don't remember exactly what our trials were, we just know that we had them and that we learned from them. So it is with a mission. When I look back on the past time I have been on my mission, I see where I grew, where I was made stronger, and in vivid colors remember each joyful moment. I am so grateful to be a missionary. This is truly the Lord's work, and I feel HONORED to be a servant in His vineyard.

I love you all dearly, and wish you all the best week!!

Your Alpine Missionary,

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Monday, August 11, 2014

Munich could possibly be the headquarters for Miracles

Liebe Familie und Freunde,

As this city is slowly preparing for the onset of Oktoberfest, I can still hardly believe that I get to serve in this incredible and absolutely beautiful city!  In the heart of Bavaria, the accents are thick, the food is lecker and the people have a strong sense of "gemütlichkeit" It is certainly wonderful to be a missionary here! I feel so blessed...and this is why:

Munich could be the headquarters for miracles! Sister Peterson and I seem to be running around with baskets above our heads trying to catch them all and right when we think we've got something cool going on, something more amazing happens and drops into the basket!  In addition to getting "cornered" by Jehova's Witnesses while "heart attacking" the Munich 3 Sisters for Sister Smith's birthday, this week has been pretty eventful.

Our most exciting miracle is Adrian, the father of one of the Romanian families we are teaching. We began the Stop Smoking program with him the Friday I got into Munich, and on Monday we followed up on his progress. In the three days it had been since we introduced the program to him, Adrian had only smoked one cigarette! We were so proud of Adrian! We were able to teach him and his 16 year old daughter Adele about the Book of Mormon. Adrian was determined to find the stories related to the pictures in the front of his book, and wouldn't let us leave until we had shared everything with him. At the end of the appointment Adrian gave his very first verbal prayer. The Spirit filled the room like a hot air balloon. It. Was. Amazing. Adrian and Adele promised to read in the Book of Mormon, and on Friday when we had our party to celebrate that Adrian was done with smoking, they said they had read the whole first sections of the Book of Mormon before 1 Nephi! Adrian's wife, Niki, is a little more hesitant to accept the Book of Mormon, but with a little push from her daughter and husband, she also commited to begin reading. The Zone Leaders were at the appointment, Elder Spencer and Elder Vitel, and Elder Vitel is from Romania so he was able to communicate with the Muntean's a little better than we could. It was a very spiritual experience, and once again the Spirit of the Lord filled the room. The Spirit knows no language barrier!

We were able to have 2 last minute miracle appointments with Tenzin this week. He's progressing well, but the one thing that keeps him from progressing fully is his church attendance. He is always trying to help others with their various needs on Sundays and sometimes forgets to come to Church. He's reading in the Book of Mormon each day and is praying each day, and is preparing himself wonderfully for his baptism in December!

Sister Peterson and I had just finished visiting a sister from the international ward (we consider ourselves responsible for the old women in the international ward because they have no sisters) when we got a phonecall from our hilarious investigator Scott. Scott is often in Hamburg, but requested to meet with the missionaries there when he is up North. After our less active lesson we saw on our phone we had 5 missed calls, spacing within minutes of eachother. We called Scott back and he said "Hi Sisters! I'm with Elder Casper!"  So slightly confused, we asked "You're with the missionaries?" Scott said "Yes! Here he is!" and promptly handed his phone over to this Elder Casper serving in the Berlin Mission. We had an awkward 3 minute conversation consiting of "How's your mission going? Do you like Hamburg? How's Scott doing?" before hearing the wonderful news that Scott is keeping all of his commitments and reading in his Book of Mormon each day. I look forward to meeting Scott finally in person when he comes back to Munich next week. :)

We had an appointment with Matthew, another African investigator, and wonderful Sister Kohler came along! Matthew's mother just passed away, and so he has been very busy with funeral arrangements back in Nigeria. However, he wanted to definitely meet with us this week, so we invited Sister Kohler as a joint teach so we could meet in the church. We gave Matthew a church tour and had our lesson in the chapel. Sister Kohler is a ROCKSTAR! We love her so much and she has so much wisdom and love. We read in Alma 40 about the Resurrection and were able to teach him the beautiful doctrine of the Plan of Salvation. It is always a humbling and wonderful experience feeling the Spirit and comfort that comes when we bear testimony of the truth of the Gospel. Matthew promised to read in the Book of Mormon and to pray about it. We're hoping and praying that he will want to partake of the great joy that the Lord offers and be baptized.

This week I have been studying an interesting topic, that being of Godly Sorrow. It's been on my mind a lot lately trying to understand the difference between guilt and of remorse. One thing stuck out to me today that added to my understanding. As found in Preach My Gospel in the Gospel of Jesus Christ under reptenance, it talks about how godly sorrow, or remorse, leads us to repentance and change in our hearts. I read in 2 Corinthians 7:10, which reads "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but sorrow of the world worketh death." Paul teaches in this verse that godly sorrow in repentance is necessary if we are going to truly repent. Guilt does in deed lead to action, but in a much more prideful way. I took some time to reflect on my repentance process, and I am grateful that the Lord was able to teach me it today. Remorse leads to a softer, more moldable, changable  heart. Here on my mission as I have prayed for humility, or charity, or patience, the Lord has thrown me into the fire of test and trial. I made mistakes along that path of learning, but through repentance I can gratefully say that I was changed. When we repent with a sincere, broken, gentle, honest heart, we need not fear! Repentance is BEAUTIFUL, and I am so grateful that I have the chance to repent and be made better each and every time I get on my knees to pray. President Miles once said to repent like you pray....meaning, do it often!

 I'm so grateful for the blessings of the Atonement! The Savior is there for each one of us... I know He is! I've seen Him bless my life in an uncountable amount of ways. Don't ever deny the blessings that await you.

I love you all! Thank you for your letters, emails, and pictures each week. It's always good to know that I am still loved :)
(Sorry for the lack of pictures this week.....dropbox won't load. Next week there shall be an ÜBERFLUß! Sei bereit.)

Alles, alles liebe
Your Alpine Miss
Sister Natalie Motto

Monday, August 4, 2014

Servus Aus Bayern - I Made It To Munich!

Hello Family and Friends!! 

Servus Zusammen!

Well....I made it to the amazing Bavarian capital and majestic city of München!!!  I arrived here safe and sound and was greeted by a wonderful missionary companion, Sister Peterson. Goodbyes in Tübingen were hard, they always are, but it's comforting to know that there is still such thing as Facebook and email and Skype outside of the mission life :)

Last Monday Sister Pentz and I had a very neat experience! Our last Pday together had kind of been a little anti-climactic, and after walking around the main Tübingen Innenstadt, we noticed a flyer for an organ concert that night at 8pm. It was to be held at the big, beautiful Stiftskirche right in the heart of the city in honor of Johann Sebastian Bach's death day. Sister Pentz and I started our 3 hours of proselyting time right then so we could attend the concert! It was so neat!! A thunderstorm rolled in right at the beginning of the concert, and you can only imagine what a magical experience that was! Lightening would flash occasionally across the stain glass windows, and thunder would rumble and echo over our heads, all while listening to the most beautiful Bach Preludes and Fugues. A wonderful last day in Tübingen!!

Onto Munich! Sister Peterson and I have already begun to see many miracles, and I am eager and anxious to help the ball to continue rolling. So many great missionaries have left an incredible legacy in this ward. 

This week we met with Tenzin and Nga Wang. They are from Tibet, but do not speak much German. We communicate with Tenzin in English (who speaks English completely fluently), who then will translate for Nga Wang. We are setting a calender baptismal date with Tenzin this week, and we are so excited! He's truly incredible. Tenzin keeps expressing his excitement to help the Church translate the Book of Mormon into Tibetian, and then to share the Gospel with every Tibetian he knows. He said "Sisters, my people are ready. With your help, we can bring them this happiness I also have in my life." WOW!

I also got to meet a wonderful family from Romania. They are a family of a father, mother, and 14 year old daughter, who came to Germany about 18 months ago to live here. Their German is actually very, very good for the amount of time they have been here, and on Friday we were able to introduce the stop smoking program to the father. The wife, Nikolini, was as excited as a little 3 year old and kept telling her husband to "Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!" so we could start the program. Herr M is a quite the talker and after the appointment said "Next time, it's my turn to talk!" We told him he could only talk the whole time if it was what he learned in the Book of Mormon. He accepted. (Update: 3 days on the 7day stop smoking program, and he hasn't smoked once!)

Sister Peterson and I also met with the "T" family, a Romanian-Hungarian couple who are looking for an apartment so their family can move to Germany. They have the money, but the apartments around here are sparse. They live in a Wohnwagen, and we got to meet them again before Jolie (the mom) went back to Romania on Sunday. They are some of the most humble, loving, and kind people I've ever met. We shared with them Mosiah 24:14 in their discouragement with finding an apartment for them and their 4 children, and Frau T found it so beautiful that she wrote down the scripture in a book she saves only for "precious words." It is such a powerful thing on a mission to have individuals you meet, teach, love, and see them embrace the Book of Mormon. It is so incredibly rewarding.

Church in the Munich 2 ward was wonderful yesterday, and right when I began to feel a little overhwhelmed with getting to know all the names, Schwester Djantar from the Göppingen branch walked into Relief Society!! She was the Relief Society President when I was in Göppingen, and I cannot begin to describe my happiness in seeing her again! It was a mini spirit-world kind of reunion. We talked and talked and it was so wonderful catching up. Seeing Schwester Djantar was a tender mercy amist my fear of being a brand new missionary 14 months ago.  It was also a neat experience to share my testimony yesterday at the same pulpit where I gave my first testimony out in the field as a brand new golden literally the day I arrived in this incredible country. Not much had changed in 14 months, but I have and it was a humbling and tender feeling for me to have the sweet spirit of the Lord testify to me that I am where I need to be and that I still have so much work to do. As a then very tired, jet lagged missionary, I recalled the first time I bore my testimony in Germany….I had SO many of emotions…I remember the fire I had behind what I shared.

Being a missionary is the sweetest and most beautiful thing I have ever experienced, and I never, ever want to give it up!

I love you all. You do not understand what courage and hope I recieve through simply knowing what kind of team I have at home backing me up. You're the best support crew ever. :) Thank you for everything!

All the best this week!

Your little Alpine/Bavarian Miss,

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto