Monday, October 27, 2014

"To Nourish Starving Souls"

Dearest Family and Friends,

Its getting coooollldddd.......:)  

It's been a wonderful week here in the beautiful, fairytale like land of Bavaria!! Sister Ahlm and I are attempting to adapt to the ever growing colder weather here in Munich, but we are warm in our hearts as we go about sharing the message of the Gospel.  I feel SO blessed to be able to stay in this incredible city and ward for my last transfer.  I have LOVED serving in Bavaria and it feels right to end in a place which has grown so near and dear to my heart.  I am also grateful to continue serving as STL and as a trainer with Sis Ahlm, who by the way, doesn't really need a trainer, she is incredible.  We have so much fun together and are working hard! 

FINALLY found a hedgehog~
We had a pretty successful week. We met with Sparks throughout the week, being able to teach him about the Restoration, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Priesthood. On Thursday Sister Ahlm and I took a beautiful S-bahn ride down to Tutzing, which is the most south we can go on our Munich train card, and met Sparks there. We taught him at a friend's home because it was so cold outside, and had an incredible lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Each time I teach this lesson, I recognize the power in it's simple points. Faith leads to repentance, which will help our desires grow to follow the Savior to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and as we continually strive after this pattern week after week taking the sacrament, we can better and stronger endure to the end. We talked a lot about priesthood authority during the lesson, and priesthood blessings. We also extended the invitation for Sparks to be baptized on November 29 and he said YES! We called Kai afterward, and he was so happy he got emotional. Kai thanked us for leading his friend to the Gospel, and right then I corrected him and said, "No Kai, we didn't do anything. It was YOU who brought your friend to the Gospel, and we are just here to help you teach him." Even up through Church yesterday, afterwhich Sparks got his first priesthood blessing, Kai radiated such a glow of happiness and excitement for his friend. Member missionary work is the most powerful way to go about laboring in the Lord's vineyard.

We visited the Göb's again this week with Bishop Sneddon. Although it wasn't a terrible lesson, we didn't teach what we had planned. We'll be visiting the Göb's on Thursday this week, and after much prayer decided the best way to teach them, at this point in time, is through simple, clear points. Once we have a foundation of simple but powerful teachings, then we can build up from there.

On Wednesday we went to Lenggries and contacted our referrals. Our trip down there was grey and rainy, and Sister Ahlm asked "why is it always grey and rainy when we go to Lenggries?"  Ten minutes later the sun came out and Lenggries showed us her true colors of Bavarian beauty.

On Friday Sister Ahlm and I got to spend with cute Erika Kohler, the mission presidents daughter! It was almost like having my little sister Isabelle along. I forget how fun it is to have a 14 year old with you, and Erika reminded me in even the smallest ways of what great things come from the smallest amounts of faith. When we were with Erika we met with Tenzin, and Tenzin was thoroughly impressed with her spiritual maturity. Tashi (Tenzin's wife) was also very impressed about Erika's knowledge about the Bible. Sister Ahlm and I agree that bringing Erika more often might be the key to softening Tashi's heart to listen to the message of the Gospel.

Oh so get this! Sister Ahlm and I had a unique opportunity to attend a worship service for the 7 Day Adventists. This small congregation of about 10 people asked Bishop Sneddon a while back if they could use our Church building for their worship service, and he complied. We helped these really nice and really faithful people set up the Relief Society room for their service, and in return they invited us to stay for a time. So we did! And it was really neat! The time we spent with them, praying and reading in the Bible for their "Sabbath school" was an experience in which the Spirit testified to me the goodness of these people's hearts. They are such GOOD people and even though they are of different faiths, I know the Lord loves them and their efforts to learn more of the Bible.   We hope to have the opportunity soon to teach them what we believe so that they might enjoy the fullness of the Gospel. 

We met with Herr Muanza this week after such a long time, and taught him about priesthood authority. He LOVED it, especially the scriptures we shared from the Bible and the Book of Mormon in partnership. Muanza is loving his daily Book of Mormon reading, and he said he now knows that Joseph Smith IS a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon cannot be anything but the Word of God. We asked him to be baptized and he said no......because he was already baptized. Even after our entire lesson on priesthood authority, he still didn't get it. So back to basics and hopefully in the next lesson we're hoping to maybe clarify a little bit better with our Portuguese speaking member who can help translate/clarify a couple of things:)

Today I set the goal for myself to read the Book of Mormon one more time through before coming home. With the time I have left, that means I need to read 14 pages each day. I'm reading the Book of Mormon after Elder Bendar's challenge, to read with a perspective of the Atonement. Today when I studied, I read about Nephi and his brothers going to get the brass plates from Laban. Each time I read, I am astounded by Nephi's faith and unwavering obedience. Today when I read however, something else clicked in my understanding. The reason Nephi is so strong is because he simply gets the Atonement. He GETS it. The reason Laman and Lemuel mumble and grumble around is because they don't. They see angels, they witness miracles, and they still don't get it. Nephi understands the power of repentance, and the incredible power that comes from being grateful. I am really eager and excited to see what treasures of hidden knowledge await as I continue to read the Book of Mormon again with this new perspective. How grateful I am for this book of scripture! How grateful I am for the healing power it has to nourish starving souls (quoted by President Boyd K Packer).

I love my mission. I love being a missionary. I love my Savior, and I am forever grateful for this opportunity to be His representative.

Love always, 

Your Missionary

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto

Simply Listen

Dearest family and friends,

Yes, it's been another wonderful week of missionary work.....full of learning opportunities, service, teaching and enjoying some pretty amazing fall weather here in southern Germany.

We started off our week visiting Sister Franz in the hospital, an older sister in our ward because it was her birthday. The Elders and we sang to her, enjoyed cake with one another, and Sister Franz claimed  that we made her entire day. Little does she know how much it made OUR day as missionaries to visit her and perform that act of service for her. It did bestimmt (certainly) a lot more good for me than for her, to see this sweet elderly sister smile and tell us of her love for us and for the Lord.  

We met with the Goeb's this week. It was very, very good. We began talking about the nature of God, and what it exactly means to us individually that we have a loving Father in Heaven. They are making progress and even though there are stumbling blocks, we are doing our best putting faith in the Lord, praying that through our teaching of His truth, that the Goebs hearts will be softened and that they will listen.  The listening part has been tricky.  It took longer than normal to teach them this week but missing 2 train times was worth it.  We wanted them to fully understand the truth and be very specific what we believe and why. 

We then recommitted them to continue to read in the Book of Mormon, and to fully, 100% listen to what we have to say and teach, and then they can decide for themselves if what we teach as representatives of Jesus Christ is true or not. The Goeb's sincerely promised to listen, as well as wholeheartedly promising us--because of their own desire, not out of commitment-- to begin reading the Book of Mormon again.

After that appointment, I was so exhausted, and I couldn't remember what I had even said. Sister Ahlm didn't either.  We were so pleasantly surprised and grateful to see that the Spirit really had guided our thoughts and words during that appointment. We are looking forward to our appointment with them on Wednesday!

This past week we also had the privilege of attending the funeral service for Simon Auras, the 11 year old son of our stake president, who died suddenly last week playing soccer. It was a beautiful memorial service, and there was so much love and peace in the room. How grateful I am for the knowledge and blessing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that we may be with our families forever.

I went on Austausch this week, and got to work with Sister Packer and Sister Smith in a dritt in the Munich 3 ward! It was really neat! I almost accomplished my mission goal of chasing down a biker, but the sweet older man stopped to talk to us even before I got two feet running. It was a neat experience working with both Sister Packer and Sister Smith again. I"m always so amazed of how much I learn on Austausch!  We were also able to see Dachau.  I remember going with my parents before my mission and feeling so overwhelmed and my emotions were guarded.  This time however, as a missionary who is called to preach hope and faith and to teach about a loving Heavenly Father and His plan, my eyes saw it differently.  I said a silent prayer that those who were so deeply affected by the Holocaust may have peace and the everlasting blessings through the Atonement.  

Sister Ahlm and I went back down south to visit Lenggries again, but instead of contacting our referrals again, we got to speak to Leandro, who is from Chile. He's lived in Germany for 15 years and knows a little about the Church, and we talked to him for an hour and twenty minutes right on the train platform where we had gotten off!  We are excited to meet with him again tomorrow to give him a Spanish Book of Mormon, and to continue helping him understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how it plays a role for him personally. It's always a wonder to me to look back and see the Lord's hand in absolutely everything we do, and that we are always in the place he needs us to be.

We met with the Muntean's again and had the chance to teach Nikolina the Plan of Salvation, which was good review for Adrian and Adele. They are reading in the Book of Mormon a little more frequently now, and are praying also a little more often. They have lots of good, deep questions, which shows Sister Ahlm and I that the Muntean's really think about what we teach! They are progressing so well.....we're working really hard right now to get them to church some Sunday. That's their biggest struggle right now, but we're hoping to set a goal to get them to come this week. 

I am so grateful for the Spirit. One of the greatest blessings, and yet challenges of a mission, is the opportunity to have the Spirit with you 100% of the time. As servants of the Lord, the Spirit guides us as to with whom we should speak, and to whom the Lord has prepared to hear the message of the Restored Gospel. Sometimes that's hard. Especially when you are really good at thinking twice like me! :) One thing I learned this week from Sister Ahlm was that you should just simply act upon those promptings, and to not think twice. Out of that, Sister Ahlm and I have met some of the neatest people, and have had special opportunities to serve others. I love President Uchtdorf's quote from two conferences ago, to "doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." I like to think of it as doubting my second thoughts before doubting the Spirit! When we trust the Lord, and act upon that faith, the Lord blesses us tremendously. Listen to the Spirit! Listen to His gentle promptings, no matter how small. You never know what miracle is about to come your way. Simply Listen.

I love you, my dear family and friends.  I must be off, but know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your incredible support and love!

Your Missionary,
Sister Natalie Motto

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Spirit Is The Ultimate Teacher

Liebe Familie und liebe Freunde,

What a wonderful week Sister Ahlm and I had!! Sister Ahlm is so great and such a fun and sweet companion. I'm so grateful for her! This week FLEW by and it doesn't even feel like Monday today, I am so happy to be here and to tell you about another special week here in Munich.

A little souvenir from Oktoberfest

We were able to help at the Refugee Home again in the "Kleider Kaemmer" and help give out clothes and basic need products to all the new refugees who came to Munich this past week. Each time is such a humbling experience, and the beautiful words of "Because of I Have Been Given Much" runs through my head. I feel so blessed to really be my brother's keeper, and to simply give aid to those who are in so much more of a need than I. I met a new friend, Madeleine, who also volunteers at the refugee home. We had a brief but good chat about the Gospel during one of our slower moments, and I was able to talk to her a little about what I do as a missionary. It was great! I look forward in the coming weeks to being able to talk with Madeleine a little more, and to share more about what we believe. I love being a missionary!

Sister Ahlm and I got to meet with our favorite Tibetan threesome again this week! Tenzin, Ngawang, and Namdul met us at a park near the Zoo and we got to sit and talk in the beauty of a warm autumn day.  It has always been a challenge to try and teach the three of them together, because each one has a different understanding of the Gospel. Sister Ahlm and I thought it would be a good idea to talk about prayer, and the lesson went extremely well.  Each learned what they needed to, and that for me was a testimony that the Spirit really is the Ultimate Teacher.

I went on Austausch with Sister McEwen this week, a fiesty, fiery, spirited Scottish sister serving in Passau. Passau is beautiful, by the way. On our Austausch, we attempted to find the address of one of our less actives to give her brownies, but because it was late and we couldn't find the address, so we went to turn home. We saw a man near the bus stop, who looked worn down and tired. Without even speaking to each other, Sister McEwen and I gave this man the brownies we had baked for the less actives. He was so happy!! (Maybe a little shocked too that total strangers would offer him food?)  I'm still trying to learn Bayerisch, but his toothless grin from ear to ear let me know that he was happy for our small gift. 

We met a really neat woman named Maggy this week, who was really interested in our black name tags. She's about 30 years old, was born and raised in Munich, and said she's never seen our missionaries before. When Maggy approached us, asked us where we were from and why we were here, and then for our Ubahn ride home, we talked to her about what we do as missionaries, that is, inviting others to come unto Christ. She is an incredibly faithful woman, who LOVES the Bible, and was really excited about the idea of Another Testament for Jesus Christ. We're meeting with her later this week to teach her about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon.

We met with Adrian and Adele this week, who are making leaps and bounds as far as their progress goes. Adrian shared what he quickly realized to be a testimony of God, and told us that it has been extremely difficult for their family to put God as their priority. They know that's what they need to do, and they are trying to do everything they can to make it possible to come to Church as a family. With conflicting work schedules, it's been hard,  but they have the goal to come next Sunday. Please pray for them.

We got to finally sit down and have an official appointment with Sparks, who told us right off that he wants to know what to do in order to be baptized. And, well, we told him! Sparks has seen how happy the Gospel makes his friend Kai, and he wants that in his life as well. He told us he feels so much peace each time he comes to Church, and it makes his week go better. Also recognizing that as the Holy Ghost, Sparks said "I think that's what you call a testimony, right?" We're setting a baptismal date with Sparks on Wednesday!!

Yesterday we had a neat experience while going to an eating appointment with the Whatley's. A boy and a girl saw us walking on the street and asked us if we were the people who worked at a nearby mall, because of our black nametags. We told them we were missionaries, told them which Church we were from and what we do, and then this boy and the girl decided to walk with us to the Whatley's. We found out this young man, whose name we didn't catch, is 18 years old, and has already experienced a great deal of sadness in his life. He lost his little sister in a car accident exactly two years ago, and expressed that since that time he hasn't believed in God. We talked with this young man about the Plan of Salvation, and he stopped in his tracks. "Really?" he asked, and I'm sure he was contemplating how serious we were. We gave this boy our number, and completely acting on faith I said, "You give us a call. We know that you will see your sister again. We can help you learn that for yourself as well." The boy, obviously trying to be cool, said "I''ll think about it" and then he walked off. I've seen many miracles come from just handing out cards, because a good half the time the people call back, and with that ratio, I'm totally willing to act on my faith that they'll call back. I just feel really grateful that we ran into this young man, and that even if he doesn't call, we were able to share with him a comforting message on the anniversary of his sister's death. You just never know:)

This week we had Zone Conference. Awww, another wonderful one!  Sister Ahlm and I had the opportunity to teach about diligence. President Kohler followed us, and taught us about the Twelve Tribes of Israel. He explained the tradition of "birthright", where when the master of an estate passes away, he divides his share into equal parts among his sons, except for the firstborn, who then receives a double portion. The double portion is used to provide for the daughters and mother of the deceased master. The eldest son, then, will use his own portion to care for his father's property, and raise his own family.

 With that explanation, President Kohler asked how many of us missionaries, in our patriarchal blessings, were from the Tribe of Ephraim. (You can imagine a good 95% of us raised our hands). Part of the responsibilities and blessings the Tribe of Ephraim has is to be the first to bring the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ unto the WORLD. It is part of their duty as well, to be leaders and teachers and to help lead the gathering of Israel. Ephraim, as we know, was given the birthright from Israel. Ephraim received a double portion of his father's wealth.

Munich-Stuttgart Zone Conference October 2014

Relating that to missionary work, and to myself personally, it was humbling and enlightening to recognize for the hundredth time the blessings given to me throughout my life. I have been given everything I need temporally, from parents who work so hard to provide for the family. I have had food on my plate, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head, as well as many comforts of life that have made my life much more enjoyable and plentiful. That's my hefty first portion, so to say. The second portion of this birthright I have been given is the gift of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. With this double portion, it is my DUTY and right to take care of my father's estate. The Master of the Vineyard has called me to labor in a very particular part of His garden, to weed and sow and reap and harvest, until the day that He comes again and says "well done, thou good and faithful servant." 

I am so grateful to be a missionary. My heart simply wants to burst with happiness at the very thought of this marvelous privilege I have each day to preach the Gospel. Yes I do have moments of discouragement, weariness and exhaustion, but it is in those moments, when the Lord sends someone or something to me in a very personal way which reminds me of His love and alls well. I love being a missionary. I love this work. I am blessed beyond measure. 

I love you all so much!! Have an AMAZING week!!

Your Missionary,

Sister Natalie Motto

Monday, October 6, 2014

#MissionarymiraclesinmagnificentMunich....and Oktoberfest is Still Going On

Hello my dearest Family and Friends!!

Sister Ahlm and I have seen more missionary miracles in magnificent Munich this week!! (Say that 3 times fast:) I wish I had time to go into even more detail about EVERYTHING that happened this week, there was so much going on...great MLC meetings, Pres interviews, General Conference, an amazing Oktoberfest P-Day, service projects.....however, there are people to talk to and teach so, are the highlights!   Such. A. Great. Week!

Oktoberfest was super festive, cultural and kind of crazy!  I'm grateful that I had been "fore-warned" by my parents because it really is a bit overwhelming.  It was sad to see where the world places its priorities and fascinating how much the Germans LOVE their beer!  The food was really good, we both thought as we gobbled up some really tasty wurst.  Ja, I'm glad we could go and witness what all the fuss was about:)

We found the joy in service as we helped paint the wonderful Sneddon's back yard shed.  They are in our Munich ward and DO SO MUCH for the missionaries and this ward.  We love them so it was a honor to help them in this small way.

Our first miracle was the Muntean family, our wonderful Romanians....... Remember how I said that their regression after coming back from Romania was super discouraging? The Zone Leaders came with us on Tuesday for an appointment, so that Elder Vitel, a Romanian Elder, could translate for us. We wanted the Muntean's to know exactly what we expected of them, and we wanted to know exactly what their concerns were. When they were in Romania, because of some difficulties completing some renovations on their house, the Muntean's were stressed and had that as their only focus, pushing aside daily prayer and scripture study that they had done so habitually the weeks previous. Adrian also began smoking again, and took up drinking, and Nikolina became discouraged that our Stop Smoking Program was only a temporary fix. This, among other questions, caused the Muntean's to think twice about meeting with us when they got home from Romania.

With the help of our wonderful Romanian speaking Elder Vitel, we were able to clarify to the Muntean's what our purpose was, and to share testimony of how much we know the Gospel would bless their life. We reviewed the Restoration, and after a while the family became more engaged in the conversation as Elder Vitel explained what it means that we missionaries are here. And at the end of the appointment we made a return appointment for Thursday, having committed them to read the Living Christ, and to begin praying and reading in the scriptures again.

Thursday as Sister Ahlm and I showed up to our follow up appointment, Nikolina rushed to the door and embraced us, inviting us in excitedly like a little kid. Adrian yelled out the door and told us to hurry into the apartment, where we were greeted by food laid out on the table! They surprised us with a traditional Romanian dinner. Nikolina and Adrian and Adele were all so happy, and the Spirit in the room was stronger, sweeter, and warmer than I have ever felt before at the Muntean's. Sister Ahlm and I still can't figure out what was different, but we have an idea that the Lord is blessing the Muntean's with understanding, and a desire to learn about the Church. Adrian and Nikolina told us they know that they need to come to Church, and not only that they need to, but they want to. Nikolina told us that only good has come from our visits, and even though they haven't been always doing their part, that she still feels love and good inside when we teach. Nikolina and Adrian also asked us what is required for baptism into our church. As we explained that process, I couldn't help but get butterflies in my stomach in that moment recognizing the Muntean's true progression.   When we left Nikolina gave Sister Ahlm and I kisses on both cheeks, and the whole family invited us to come more often during the week, so they can continue to learn about the Gospel and gain a better understanding of what the Gospel has to offer them personally.

(MLC...meeting with my wonderful "sisters")

Another tender mercy/mini-miracle this week was when Sister Ahlm and I were visiting the Goeb family. We smiled at a woman on the Sbahn, who then smiled back. When we both got off at the same stop, Sister Ahlm and all her golden fire went to the woman and fearlessly gave her a Book of Mormon. The woman replied with the most gratitude, saying that she knew we were sent from God, and that she knew we had something to offer her. She quickly rushed off before we could get her information, but she called from down the platform "I promise I will read! I promise I will read and call you!" 

I also gave away my personal copy of the Book of Mormon I was using to study the Atonement to a really overbearing and somewhat rude American man with a cute border collie puppy. It was another one of those Alma the younger moments, watching this  man go from hard and crude to soft and genuinely curious. He said he would read the Book of Mormon, and naja, I figured my personal, marked up copy will do him more good than me. 

The Goeb's came to General Conference! Juergen, the husband, talked with us afterward, and told us the spiritual experience he had at Conference was only the second time he has ever felt that in his life. He was extremely moved by the speakers, especially President Uchtdorf from the Saturday morning session. Sister Ahlm and I are amazed at the progress and understanding Juergen is coming to in the Gospel.

Didn't you just LOVE General Conference? My spiritual bucket is overflowing! I feel like each time I watch General Conference on my mission the time goes faster and faster. I absolutely loved the "trend" of talking about living prophets. I would have to say my favorite talk was from President Henry B Eyring from the Sunday morning session. I love the topic of personal revelation, especially because I have the strongest testimony and also a sure knowledge that God speaks to His people, and that through His prophet, we will never be lead astray. It gives me a lot of peace and comfort to know as well that my loving, just, gracious Father in Heaven can speak to me on a personal level, and that the questions of my heart can also be answered when I seek Him. The Lord teaches this principle very clearly and understandably when He appeared to the Nephites after His resurrection. He said,

" 19 Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name; 20 And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you."

Ask and it shall be given, seek and will be found, knock, and it will be opened. 

I have this testimony. I KNOW my Savior lives, and that He speaks through His servant and living prophet, Thomas S. Monson. How grateful I am to be His servant, laboring in His field, to help prepare the way for Him to come again.

I love you all! May your days be filled with the love of the Savior and appreciation for the Atonement and ALL that He has blessed us with.  


Your little Alpine-Bavarian Missionary,

Sister Natalie Hannah Motto