Meine lieben Freunde und Familie,
Bruce R. McConkie once said,
"Being born again is a gradual thing, except in a few isolated instances that are so miraculous they get written up in the scriptures.... we are born again by degrees, and we are born again to added light and added knowledge and added desires for righteousness as we keep the commandments."
My mission has been a born again experience. I am so grateful for each moment that I have had to allow my faith and testimony to be tested, proven, and strengthened. This quote has been one of my favorites of the past little bit, as Sister Ahlm and I have seen investigators and less actives progress and add to their own light and knowledge.
This week we were extremely busy, to a point where Sister Ahlm and I went to bed and woke up the next morning feeling like there were only seconds in-between. I feel so blessed to be so busy, and one of the greatest tests of my faith has been to see if Heavenly Father can support someone as tired and exhausted as we!! We were able to meet with Sparks a couple times this week, one of our lessons being over the phone. Sparks has had a lot of questions lately, but all very good questions that have helped his understanding of the Gospel grow. Sparks is one example I think of in this "born again" stage, where, at this point in time, he is already such a different individual than when we first met him. We also began teaching him the Plan of Salvation, which was kind of a big step for him, something a little different that he had a more difficult time understanding. Sparks being Sparks however, said he would pray about it and really study the scriptures we gave him so he can know what we're teaching him is true. His baptismal interview is this week: we're so excited!
We had a really great Zone Training this week, where President Auras, our stake president, was in attendance. It was an amazing Zone Training, and I had the privilege of bearing my testimony as a soon-to-be "departing missionary". That was so strange but still a good, special experience.
We met with Gerhard. He's an older German man who grew up behind the wall in the former DDR. He hasn't had the easiest life, and from his experience has dedicated his life to helping the poor and starving in Africa. We taught Gerhard about the Restoration and he LOVED the metaphor to the Apostasy as being a broken mirror, and through Joseph Smith the broken mirror was restored. I love metaphors, especially when teaching. Gerhard got it, and is anxiously awaiting our next appointment. We're hoping to set a baptismal date with him this week!
I went on Austausch, 3 for 3, with Sister Smith from Munich 3 this week! She's such a darling missionary, and it's been fun to see her progression over the past 3 transfers. On Austausch we met with Klaus Nudlbichler and Niculina Muntean. The Muntean family is still set on their goal to come to church the 23rd, and Klaus has enjoyed reading in the Book of Mormon, although we are not 100% sure how much he understands. We also got to meet with Tenzin and Ngawang at a Chinese Resturant, drank some Apfelschorle (fizzy apple juice), and talked about the Word of Wisdom again.
Something new! We went to a Moonie party with the Goeb's. The Unification Church celebrated their 50th anniversary of being in Munich, and Sister Ahlm and I went after being invited by the Goeb's. It was pretty interesting, we had some delicious cake and fruit tea, and the Goeb's were really happy we went to support them.
I feel so blessed to be working with Sister Ahlm here in Munich. She's such a great missionary who has blossomed into a confident, excited missionary. She's always been so, but even from the beginning it's been a neat opportunity for me as her trainer to see how she's grown. I love her so much and am so grateful for this time we have together!
Whenever I experience an uphill climb here on my mission, I think of that Bruce R McConkie quote. The Lord is so brilliant to allow us to have to endure some things, so that we can become stronger and more refined. Just as a rough stone becomes smooth after the river's waves rush by after a period of time, and as the bumps and jagged edges wash away, so it is with us. Being born again is to be made whole and new. How grateful I am for the Sacrament each week, so that at the start of each new week of various challenges and obstacles, I have that clean slate to begin again. It's a step by step process, a gradual thing, and I am so grateful to know I have a patient and loving Father in Heaven and merciful Savior who constantly remind, reassure, forgive, support, and love me. I have the most humble desire to stay strong, to finish strong, to fight for the Lord and for His Gospel until He no longer needs me as His full time missionary. I'm savoring each and every day.
I love you all so dearly! Have the most marvelous of weeks.
Sister Natalie Motto