Dearest Family and Friends,
This week was simply marvelous! The weather seems to agree with me because I love periodic rain and that is what we have been getting. The bright autumnal colors are beginning to pop up everywhere around Southern Germany. Germany is really beautiful in every season and every season has it's uniqueness...Autumn just suits Bayern. The many hills covered with green forests are dotted with spots of red and gold. And although the weather has gotten cooler, the air is refreshing and everyone seems ready for Fall!
Sister Ahlm and I have seen miracle after miracle after miracle this week, and I can't help but say that this "golden fire" thing is totally real! Sister Ahlm is exactly what this area, and what I needed this transfer!
Last week we met a really neat man by the name of Armando while riding the Sbahn. He's originally from Sicily, but has been living in Germany for the past 2 years working for Intel. He speaks fantastic English, and when we asked why he started talking to us he said it was because we looked happy amist the tired, grumpy looking employees going home from work that evening. We invited Armando to German class, where he came and we were able to not only teach him German, but we were able to teach him about the Book of Mormon! Having felt prompted to bring an Italian book with me that day, we gave it to Armando to read. Not even 2 hours passed after the class when Armando texted us telling us he had already begun to read in the Book of Mormon, and that he wanted to come to Church Sunday. Yesterday he came and he thoroughly enjoyed his experience. He said he is happy to know where to start his life so he can also have this "light" that he sees in Sister Ahlm and I, and the other members that were at church that day. Do we truly realize how much our light shines?
Thursday was an adventure! Sister Ahlm got to go on her first "real" (real as in lengthy and not a commuter) train ride as we headed down to the beautiful city of Lenggries, which is located south of Munich on the edge of the beginning of the Alp Mountain Range. We were blessed with 11 referrals from Church headquarters last week, and had time Thursday to go contact them. The sister who had referred these people to us was still fondly remembered, and we got a few return appointments with these people who want to know more about what their friend Sister Whiteley believes! (By the way Lenggries is another gorgeous corner of our area!)
Funny story: As Sister Ahlm and I were walking down a beautiful road in Lenggries, we came upon a really cute kitten. I took my camera out to get a picture, and a little girl about 4 years old came up to me and asked, "Why are you taking a picture of my kitty?" I told her I have a friend who loves cats and that I wanted to send the picture to her. The girl shyly smiled, gave me her permission to take pictures of her kitty, and then showing me a red berry, in her little Bayerisch accent said, "Das ist Gift. Ich werde es zu der Katze fressen." For those of you who do not speak German, the word gift means poison in German! Sister Ahlm and I started cracking up, completely appalled at this darling, cute, blonde haired and blue eyed German girl, and what she wanted to do to the kitty! Thankfully the little kitten was smart enough NOT to eat the poisonous berry.
This week we met Hashim. Hashim is from Somalia, and a refugee here in Germany. Hashim has had an incredibly hard life, and wants to know what he can do to be happier. He does not like the Muslim religion, and wants to be Christian. He is a single father of 3 sons, two of whom are still in Somalia. He is earning money to bring them to Germany. His son Jamil LOVES soccer. When we met Hashim at the bus stop, we asked him what he thought of eternal families. He replied saying that he would give his life if he could be with his boys for eternity. We met with the Elders on Friday with Hashim, gave him a Book of Mormon in his mother language of Swahili, and Hashim will start meeting with the Elders this week. After our appointment Hashim thanked us for the message we shared with him about the Restoration and eternal families, because it is the "beginning of a brighter path" in his life.
We met with Herr Muanza also this week. We reviewed the Restoration and answered all of his questions. Herr Muanza shared his testimony about the Book of Mormon and how he knows that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. He is really looking forward to General Conference this weekend, and this week he wanting to commit to being baptized. He is making such amazing progress!!!!
The Scholz's, our cute older couple who have been less active for 20 years, are doing incredibly well. They are still preparing to recieve their patriarchal blessings at ages 75, and are making progress as they have come to church for the past 3 weeks in a row!! I was so happy to hear that my own little sister just received her patriarchal blessing and how special that was for her as I know that the Lord wants each of His children to receive so many glorious earthly and eternal blessings.
Yesterday was ward conference, and I had the pleasure of being able to accompany cute Rachel Sneddon on the piano as she sang "Ich weiss dass mein Erloeser lebt". Rachel did such a great job and it added to the wonderful spirit we felt during yesterday's meetings. Sparks was there (Kai's friend) and also the Goeb family came!! We are meeting with the Goeb's later this week!
The Munteans are doing well, but still struggling getting back into the habits that they had so well before they left to Romania. We are meeting with them this week with Elder Vitel, a Romanian Elder here in Munich, in hopes that with his help we can better convey exactly what we want said, and that we may also have an exact understanding of what the Muntean's need.
If I could sum this week up into one week, it would be that I am so grateful to be here. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I love this work. I"m counting my blessings of the greatness and beauty and gift of being a full time missionary. The trials and challenges that come are Heavenly Father's way of letting me know that He trusts me enough to use them as tools to become stronger, not as burdens to weigh me down. I love seeing the literal light the Gospel brings into people's lives as all I do is share testimony. The biggest testimony to me, that I know the Church is true, is by watching the transformation and complete 180 degree turn people take as they sacrifice their lives for the better.
Guess what??? I got word this week that Marion, the sweet investigator Sister Pentz and I taught in Tuebingen, has a baptismal date for the 8 of November!!!! It is moments like these where I recognize that the Lord really has made of me one of His work tools, and that I really am doing what He is asking me to do. Whether that be to reap, sow, or harvest in His white and ready field, I am humbled and thankful to Him for the thousands of blessings He gives me each day. I am thankful for this precious time of 18 months He has given me to come closer to Him, to be more firmly rooted in His Gospel, and to come to a complete conversion in knowing that He lives.
Have the best of weeks everyone! I love you all.
Your Alpine Bavarian Miss(ionary!)
Sister Natalie Hannah Motto