Monday, September 29, 2014

Miracles In Munich!!

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

Monday, September 22, 2014

Oktoberfest has Begun...and Because I Have Been Given Much

Liebe Freunde und Familie,

I have never seen so much lederhosen and so many dirndls in my entire life!! Must be that Oktoberfest has officially started and is speeding full ahead into the coming month of celebration. Man, can this city celebrate!! I am overwhelmed with the beauty of this place and the decorations and flowers and life that happens every year here. This past weekend has been really fun to play "guess the tourist" and "I think they're American!" on the U-bahns and pedestrian zones and to see the stark contrast between Oktoberfest "tourist" goers and the humble citizens of Munich on their way home from work. These two days are only but the beginning of an exciting and interesting time here in Bavaria and I look forward to what the coming weeks have in store!  I feel so blessed to be a missionary here..serving in the Alpine Mission..assigned to this wonderful Munich ward. 

Sister Ahlm and I had a great week this week! Sister Ahlm is definitely getting the hang of being a missionary in Munich! Her inhibitions to speak with others is diminishing as she is putting great faith in the Lord that He will place the right words at the right time in her mouth. It has been a little like watching a young bird learn to fly.  I get satisfaction out of her growth -- I can assume real motherhood has some similarities.  Her faith is rubbing off on me and I feel rejuvenated and I am reminded of that marvelous "Golden" power each new missionary brings.  

Today there was a funeral for an older woman in our ward. As part of that I had the privilege of accompanying Angela Brower, a member from Munich 3 ward, and a professional Opera Singer. She has been here in Munich for 6 years singing for the Opera, and when we went to practice with her, she gave us a VIP tour of the opera house! There are no words other than....WOW!!!!! HOLY COW! It was MAGNIFICENT!!! Angela sang beautifully and I felt so honored to be able to accompany her on the piano. Sister Ahlm and I joked as we went back to the Ubahn station that we were sewer rats, having just enjoyed an incredible taste of history and music, and then we were going back to our "dominion." Yeah....we practically LIVE on the Ubahns.... :)

Earlier this week we were blessed with spectacular weather, including blue skies, warm sunshine, and a crisp cool breeze every once and a while to remind us of the oncoming Autumn. Beautiful, 5 star weather, I must admit, makes missionary work much more enjoyable (although it is wonderful in rain or shine!) Humorously, our enjoyment of the "Goldener Sommer" as the Germans say (literally translates to "golden summer") came to an end Friday evening when we got stuck in a torrential downpour following our appointment with the Muntean's. Sister Ahlm and I were soaked from head to toe, but in that situation what else can you do but laugh? ("Embrace the Rain" and "Water doesn't hurt anything but brown sugar" floated in my mind from my mother) Our appointment with Adrian and Adele went really well. Sadly, the missionaries in Romania never contacted them, and the Muntean's found it very difficult to keep their commitments, so our job now is to help them get back up to the speed in which they were flying. They recommitted to read and pray, and are really excited for General Conference, in which we hope that they will attend. The idea of a living prophet really interests them, and we hope that General Conference will be a turning point for them.

We met with our favorite Tibetian trio this week! Tenzin, Ngawang (the former monk), and Namdul (a new investigator), and talked once again about the Plan of Salvation. Ngawang is having a difficult time understanding the premortal life and resurrection, and with his very strong Buddhist background that is understandable. It has taught me a lot of patience to teach people here on my mission with no Christian background, and I am that much more grateful for the knowledge of Christ that I was so lovingly raised with. Tenzin came to church on Sunday and LOVED it! He hasn't been in a while and mentioned how much he loves coming to church. He's progressing really well now on his way to baptism!

We did a service project at a refugee home Wednesday where we were able to help give out clothes and body care items to individuals from all over the world fleeing here to Germany. It was an incredibly humbling experience. The entire time the song played in my head "Because I have Been Given Much". I have indeed been given much, from a loving family and hardworking father who does so well providing for all our needs. I have also been given much in terms of the Gospel. How grateful I am to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! And not only that, I am so grateful to be a full time missionary with the priviledge of being able to share this Gospel message.

We met with the Ojo's again this week! This time both Brother and Sister Ojo-Osemwegie were there and we had a wonderful discussion on General Conference. In that appointment I felt so much love for this family, and couldn't help but think that they are maybe the one of the many reasons why I am here....It is without a doubt I know I needed to meet them, to feel their love, to hear their testimonies, and to share mine with them. 

One scripture this week in my personal study of the Book of Mormon stuck out. It"s short, simple, yet powerful. In 2 Nephi 2:25 it says

 in vs. 25 "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."

Our purpose here in life is to have joy!!!!!  And joy you and I will all have as we embrace the everlasting and eternal truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  Our Savior lives!!!!

I love you all my friends and family! I am so grateful for you and for your prayers. Know I am doing well, and that this little missionary soldier keeps trekking on come hard days or rain or shine because.... I love this work, and I love the blessings that come from it. Let us all throw in our sickle with all heart, might, mind, and strength.

All my love,
Your Alpine, Bavarian Missionary

Sister Natalie Motto

Monday, September 15, 2014

Called to a Missionary "Mom"!

Hello my family and friends!! 

Everyone has said it, so I might as well say it too. I'm a mission "mom"! My cute new "golden" companion Sister Ahlm arrived into the mission field running at a full sprint. She's the unbrattiest US Navy "brat" I've met, having lived many places throughout the US and in London. She's determined, excited, and ready to be a missionary. When I met her I thought to myself "am I really going to be training you? You already seem so prepared and ready!" Sister Ahlm is great, and I'm super excited to work with her and get to know her over the course of our time together.

Sister Motto with her new "Golden" Sister Ahlm

At MLC with my "sisters"

This week was wonderful! It started off with a magical Monday Pday at Neuschwanstein Castle with Sister Peterson (her last pDay was a fun one!) with our Munich ward member, Sister Whaltely. Following our adventure we had Family Home Evening with the Whaltley's, complete with homemade sushi and a great Mormon Message. I am really grateful to be serving in the Munich 2 ward. We have such fantastic, dedicated, diligent members who serve us tirelessly, and who love being engaged in the Work of Salvation just as much as we do.

We had Zone Training this week, where we did some pretty neat role plays with keeping commitments and following up. Following up is about 80% of the commitment! Without following up, the commitment is "würscht" and we keep those we teach from progressing. Following Zone Training I was able to meet with a dear friend of my family's, Mohammed Baioumy! It was so wonderful to see him after 7 or so years! We talked for a little bit about our families, how every one is, how I am liking my time here in Munich, and then shared why I decided to serve a mission. Although our time was brief, it was wonderful to see this old friend again. It's in moments where we are reunited with friends and loved ones, even for a short time, that I get a little taste of the joy and happiness involved with the Plan of Salvation.

We had the special opportunity last Tuesday evening to hear from Elder M Russell Ballard and Elder Bednar in a special Europe-wide Sister's Conference. It was broadcasted from Frankfurt. It was a unique feeling of sitting there, listening to these beloved Apostles speak and to realize that sisters gathered all over Europe were listening and watching. It was quite empowering. There is such a unity that comes from the Relief Society, and I am so grateful for this inspired program in the Church.

This week I got to meet with an investigator family that is half German half Mongolian. They're Moonies. Yep, Moonies! Their form of religion belongs to the "Moon Sect", and since the Sisters were introduced by the a wonderful Munich ward member a few months ago, we have begun to teach them the Message of the Restored Gospel. I have never heard of the Moon Sect before, but they have some very interesting beliefs. Some parts sort of similar, and then also very different, from what we believe in the LDS church. We speak in German in normal conversation, and then English because this family believe it to be the "spiritual" language. Jürgen, Baigal, and Mattaüs are very sweet, and are probably the best commitment keepers out of everyone I've ever taught! We are looking forward to teaching them more!

We met with Tenzin this week, and got another fantastic pep-talk on Inner Beauty. This Tibetan man is so amazing! We also got in touch with Matthew again this week! Matthew is still figuring out the details for his mother's funeral, but he is still reading in the Book of Mormon and hopes to come to Church this week.

Another miracle this week happens to be named Sparks. He's from Nigeria, and a good friend of a new convert in our ward named Kai. Sparks wants to go to the temple one day, so we are going to teach him so that can be possible. He has a Book of Mormon, he came to church yesterday, and he's very excited to learn more about Christ.

We also met with Scott! Scott is another one of our amazing investigators, and we teach him along with the Elders in Hamburg. Scott isn't always at peace with where he is at, so he hops between Hamburg and Munich, meeting with the missionaries along the way. He talks at about 3,000 miles an hour, and has the idea that all Americans are Mormon missionaries, and that all Americans are Mormon period. He's a 24 year old "volcano" so to say.....once we finish teaching everything and really help him keep his commitments, Scott will "explode" and may do many great things as a member of the Church. :)

This morning I had a wonderful personal study. I particularly love what is says in Doctrine and Covenants 121, verses 33-46. (Included 33-34, 41-46)

 What a powerful statement in verse 34. Many are called, but few are chosen. In German, the word for chosen is auserwählten. This is what we call people who are "golden" investigators, otherwise known as the prepared. That word choice goes the same way: am I "golden", or am I "prepared", to preach with every ounce of energy in my body the message of the Restored Gospel?

I am so grateful for verse 46, which states,

46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

My thoughts were these, that as I strive to be worthy, as I strive to be obedient, and as I strive to give all I can to the work of the Lord, that I will have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. And I know with my whole heart that with His guidance and counsel, I can do ALL THINGS. I love the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians chapter 4, which says" I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

I know this with my whole heart. This transfer has some incredible mountains to climb, but I know they will be for my good. I believe it is time for me to stretch again...and I am ready.  I am so grateful for the thousands of blessings the Lord gives me each and every day. I am so grateful to be here. I am having the time of my life as a missionary, and I could not feel more whole.

These hills really are alive with the sound of music and the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

I love you all! Have a marvelous week!!

Your Alpine Bavarian Miss (and now "Mom")

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Monday, September 8, 2014

If the Lord Wasn't On My Side, I Don't Know How I Would Get Through The Day

Dear Family and Friends,

Today, Sister Peterson and I are going to see a castle.....literally.  In the midst of a beautiful early Autumn day and in the beauty of the Allgäu rolling hills and mountains....we get to see the beautiful Disney castle, Schloss Neuschwanstein. Sound familiar? ;) A member is so sweet and offered to take us. I'm grateful that Sis Peterson gets to see it the week she leaves.  We're super excited! I will send pics next week.

Well, I got some transfer news! Looks like the Lord sees it fit to challenge me even more....I'm training!! This week I will be getting a brand new, shiny, sparkly "Golden"  fresh out of the MTC. (FYI: A "golden" is what we lovingly refer to a brand new missionary because they are so "golden" like in quality and dedication) We had a fantastic Mission Leadership Council on Friday, and as every one got their transfer calls President Kohler pulled me aside and asked me if I would stay here in Munich and would train. Of course I said yes, although for a minute I wanted to look around the room and be like, "you mean me, President?" I'm really excited for these upcoming weeks, and for the challenge and responsibility, learning opportunities and miracles that come with training a new missionary. Pray for me and this sweet new missionary! (I won't know her name until I pick her up at the Mission Office come Thursday:)

Sister Peterson and I had so much fun this week. We have been running around like a whirlwind but it's been just amazing. We've just been so busy getting to and from appointments, talking with the most hilarious people (Oktoberfest is coming up...oh my!), going on Austausches, that sometimes I just have to sit and breathe deeply and take a second to express gratitude and yes, laugh at myself a bit. I love being a missionary. Each day has a new challenge and new way of presenting itself, and there are many moments that I realize "Mensch. If the Lord wasn't on my side, I don't know how I would get through the day." I love reading back in my journal from a year ago and to see how much I've grown, matured, and gained a deeper understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

We met with Tenzin this week and started talking about the Word of Wisdom. Tenzin, who does massages for a living, related in his own unique, funny way of how reading the Book of Mormon is like recieving a brain massage. For him, the peace that comes from reading the Book of Mormon each day brings that sense of relaxation and revival like after a massage. I found the analogy kind of funny...a little fascinating and Tenzin found himself to be quite profound. Which he is! He's a smart cookie, and it's great going into lessons and coming out realizing we probably learned more from Tenzin than we taught him!

This week we met with the "S" family, a family in our ward who have been inactive for over 20 years. Their personal struggles and misunderstandings of the Gospel in the past have come to a point where they know they should, and at the least they very much want to, come back to the Church. They understand the blessings that come from the Gospel in their lives. They misunderstand that when they have questions or do not understand Gospel topics, that it is a lack in testimony. Which is completely false!! We all have questions and we all have moments of doubt, but just like President Uchtdorf so beautifully said last conference, "doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith". This cute older couple is working so hard to find their testimonies again, to rekindle that flame of faith, so that they can once again sing the song of redeeming love. It's an interesting experience being the missionaries on the other side, and how one can feel so much love, so intensely, for another individual in one moment. It was a great appointment, and as we continue to meet with this sweet couple, we will help them prepare to recieve their patriarchal blessings, and then within the next year, help them come back into full activity so that, at the ages of 71, they can recieve the full blessings of the temple and be sealed together for time and all eternity.  

We met with Herr Muanza this week and had a fantastic review-lesson on the Restoration. We watched the Restoration video, and Herr Muanza loved each mintue of it. He is still reading in the Book of Mormon each day, and told us for about 10 minutes how much he loved reading in 3 Nephi 18 about the Sacrament, and then was making connections all on his own about his experience at Church last week. It was a really neat experience to witness his testimony grow right before my eyes! Herr Muanza is progressing wonderfully, and although we extended the baptismal commitment to him and he said no, becuase he was already baptized, there is no doubt that as we explain the authority of the priesthood and continue teaching the Restoration, there will be a "click" and Herr Muanza will fully embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Sidenote: Muntean's come back this week! Juhu!!)

I am also very grateful for Sister Peterson. We have had a wonderful 6 weeks together. I've learned a lot from her. Without her, I don't know if I could have accomplished all that I have these past 6 weeks in Munich! She's so steady, patient, and faithful. She was what I needed in this place and time on my mission. She's easy to be myself around, and that's I think something that brought our companionship more together in unity. She's a very special individual, and I know she will do great things after her mission. I would be saying goodbye, but seeing as we'll be seeing each other at BYU in the Winter, it's only Bis Auf's Wiedersehen. :) Danke Sis Peterson, Ich habe Dich sehr Lieb!!

I am so grateful to be a missionary. I love this work. Although I don't always understand all the rules or the meaning of particular guidelines or why things happen the way they do, I've learned to put my trust in the Lord. In Him is my trust full and complete. He knows each thought, each concern, each joy that I have. He knows me PERFECTLY. On Friday morning during my personal study, before MLC and transfer calls, I read a line in my patriarchal blessing that admonished me to accept each calling with a willing and happy heart. That is something I really needed to hear as I go into another new "trainer" phase.  As transfer calls came and the butterflies and stress and worries about training came, I looked down at my planner to see what I had written. There in my own handwriting, I had written exactly that phrase, "a willing and happy heart." I was so grateful for that prompting I had had that morning, because now that fear is gone! I'm still a little anxious for this experience, but I know---through the perfect example and experience of my fantastic trainer and me---that President Kohler calls us trainers purely by revelation and through the promptings of the Spirit. The Lord knows there's a new little Sister ready to help encourage, strengthen, teach me, and bless my life as a missionary. And hopefully I have something to offer her too.  

I love you all and am so grateful for all your marvelous, loyal, incredible support. Have a magnificent week my dear ones!!

Your little Alpine Bavarian Miss

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Go The Extra Mile

Meine liebe Familie und Freunde,

Sister Peterson and I had another spectacular week :)

(If you're wondering, we both bought jerseys!! Not just any jersey...THE NEW WELTMEISTER jerseys that have only been out a few weeks! That was way fun. German World Cup Champion PRIDE!! The Elders were SUPER jealous we were the first ones of the district to get the 4 star jerseys. We feel pretty cool")

We had an amazing Finding Day this week, following our District Meeting with the theme of "Spirit of Elijah". Sister Peterson and I used that motto to use in our contacting. We spoke with one YSA aged girl by the name of Safaa. She is from the country of Jordan, and is doing a 2 month internship here in Germany in her studies of Neuroscience. She was extremely interested in Family History, and also in the Church. It was a humbling and neat experience for me to talk to people, be turned down, try the next person, and continuously be "rejected", to finally then speak to ONE who was ready to hear what we had to say. Speaking with Safaa alone made our Finding Day worth it!!   While we were at Ostbahnhof (train station) waiting for the rest of the district to return and report, I saw no other than a family wearing big blue Tshirts and hats that said "BYU" on them.  I ran over to them, scared the poor daughter and said, "Where are you from??" When they saw us...and of course recognized WHO we were immediately.....this family (whose name escapes me) was thrilled! They had gotten off the airplane about 5 hours before, and where here in Munich to pick up and test drive a BMW. The poor family was super jet lagged, but it was a fun experience for Sister Peterson and I to talk with members, and I believe it to be good that they saw some familiar faces/nametags as well. The mormon world is sure a beautiful thing...we are matter where we are in the world, oder?

This week I went on Austausch (exchange) to Augsburg to work with Sister Mehr. We had a really normal, successful, hardworking day, and I thought to myself, "Wow. I'm impressed nothing crazy has happened yet!" I spoke to soon, because the next morning as I got out of the shower, the faucet to turn off the water exploded and BROWN WATER started spewing everywhere! Poor Sister Mehr thought something was incredibly wrong when I screamed, but after 2 and a half hours of me walking with the very annoyed Hausmeister, calling 7 people to finally reach a German speaking missionary (our AP Elder Bellersen) to better clarify the situation to the plumber, and after 45 minutes directing the plumber man to the apartment, we got the water shut off for the Augsburg sisters until that evening, when the repair could be made. Cute Sister Mehr, who is in her first transfer, probably thought exchanges were normal. At least on Sister Exchanges, nothing ever goes as planned. ;)

Sister Peterson and I have a brilliant contacting idea. We have created little yellow smiley face pass long cards that say "Sei Glücklich" on them, and our goal is to pass them out to everyone who looks sad. On the back side is a QR code and website to and an uplifting, encouraging Mormon message, along with our phone number and church address. We'll be keeping you posted on what comes out of it. Sister Peterson is the greatest!! Our companionship has been special...we just click...we can read each other minds before the other one says something.  We have a lot of fun together, and it's a fun way to think outside of the box when it comes to missionary work. We've got amazing comp unity....our dreams are even becoming more and more similar.  Darn..she has to go home this next transfer and I am SO SAD about that!!!  We will, however, I am convinced, remain fast and lifelong friends!

On Saturday, our missionaries in Munich had a unique opportunity to record a CD for the older women in the stake who are no longer able to attend Church because of health or transportation reasons. The members here in Germany are, in my opinion, some of the most solid and strong and dedicated members of the Church. They travel for sometimes up to 2 hours by car, longer if with public transportation, to attend their weekly church meetings. We spend practically the entire day in Augsburg, and after we got into Munich around 5 we ate some food, and then met with Herr Muanza. Remember him? He's been gone for a month, so let me refresh your memory. Herr Muanza is from Angola, and has been in Germany for 20 years. Since we last met, Herr Muanza has read in the Book of Mormon from 1 Nephi 5-ish, all the way to Alma 41!! He even placed note paper in between the pages where he wanted to take notes on what he read. We talked about Church attendance, and he said he would come. A cute JAE named Maren drove Herr Muanza to church yesterday, and he loved each minute of it. His favorite part was during Sacrament Meeting when Sister Kohler gave her very first talk in German. She did wonderful!!!

I felt like Sacrament Meeting yesterday was just for me. Elder Bellersen, one of the Assistants, shared his testimony of not being afraid to go the extra mile. What he said got my mind turning, and I thought a lot about what it means for me, right now on my mission, to go that extra mile. Had someone asked me one year ago as a golden to go the extra mile, I would've been overwhelmed. Missionary work was so new to me. With each transfer and each passing day, I have learned a lot about myself.  I've seen step by step how the Lord has blessed me with the strength to go forward, and to have the desire to go the extra mile. Looking back, each transfer, in each area, with each different companion, I've been able to see where I have gone the extra mile, as far as I knew how and was capable of. Today during personal study, I got an answer to that question that first sparked during Elder Bellersen's talk. The way to keep going forward, each day, giving every little ounce of energy, is to be grateful. When we are grateful to the Lord for what He so abundantly blesses us with, why would He not bless us with energy, desire, and motivation to push harder and go further? I have not been perfect at this on my mission, not in the slightest, but I KNOW that when we are grateful, and when we express that love and appreciation to Him each and every day, He only pours out more blessings from heaven upon our weary heads.

This work is HARD and exhausting, and I look forward each morning when I wake up to get back into bed. But what I look even more forward to, than that of my physical comfort, is to feel of the joy and excitement I feel when I share the Gospel. I can't even begin to describe it. It's pure elation to share with someone my testimony. And when they laugh or ignore or call us names under their breath, I laugh and continue on, because this Gospel message brings me JOY. "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2: 25). Let us have JOY in our lives, and share this incredible gift with which we are so blessed to have.  THERE IS NO GREATER JOY than what comes from living and believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Did you hear that Germany??? Jesus IS THE CHRIST!!! I know He lives!!!

Thank you for your support and love, and I can't wait until next week!

Count Your Blessings...we all have SO many!

Your Little Bavarian Missionary,

Sister Natalie Motto