Monday, August 27, 2012

Eine Golden kommt! (The Golden One Comes!)

Guten Tag!

I guess I'll start with the biggest piece of news first. We got transfer calls on Friday! The call didn't come until pretty late (they normally call about 8 in the morning, we didn't get called until 10, needless to say it was nerve wracking). Sister Taysom is going to Munich! She will serve in the third ward, just like I did! And, I will be training! There is a brand new, "Golden" missionary coming! I will go to Munich to pick her up on Wednesday. It would be so weird to be trained in the International Ward. I know I will have to speak German with her as much as possible to help her learn. I am really humbled by the opportunity I have to train. I hope I don't corrupt her too much :)

This week we did my very first Austausch! (Exchange) Since our mission is HUGE and there are so few sisters, Austauschs (at least for me) have been few and far between. Sister Taysom went to Neumarkt (which is near Salzburg) and I stayed here in Vienna. The Sisters serving in Neumarkt are the ones closest to us at the moment. The train ride there takes about 3 hours. So we met them about halfway (in Linz) to trade companions. So I got to work with Sister Marquardt. We had some really good appointments and met some cool people. We contacted a couple Africans on the street and in the Strassenbahns. Talking to Africans is so fun. They are such open, friendly, and humble people (the problem is following through with them; they are hard to get in contact with again). Sister Marquardt hasn't really served in any big cities so far, so it was a very different experience for her. It was so, so hot. Since we were riding in Strassenbahns the whole day that made the heat even worse. They are not air-conditioned, so they basically become ovens. Being in charge of the area for a day gave me a taste of what it will be like to take over the area when Sister Taysom leaves.
Friday we had a Sports Night with the ward, which went really well. A lot of the youth came, as well as a friend of one of the members who has been to a lot of activities. The second counselor in the bishopric brought watermelon! The members here are awesome.

On Saturday we visited a Synagogue with one of our investigators who is a deacon in the Catholic church (he is a funny person). Synagogues here in Germany and Austria have very tight security. We had to e-mail them with our names before hand and then make sure to bring photo ID. The service was really enlightening. It was interesting to see how they worship God, and to think about how in the end, all anybody wants is to be close to Him. I also was able to see some of the parallels to our faith and realize where some of the things that we do come from.

Last night we had an eating appointment with one of the families from the ward. It is the family of N, who got baptized last week (and confirmed this week!). They are from Ghana. There are three sisters who moved here about 20 years ago and have raised their children here. As a consequence, the family speaks a mixture of German, English, and their native language. They will start a sentence in German, throw in some English words, and then when they get irritated start speaking their language from Ghana. At one point one of the moms yelled at her children "Guys, the missionaries cannot understand you!" So then they switched to English. It was so funny.

W, our Chinese investigator, is doing pretty good! On Sunday she came to church! We just have to get her reading in the Book of Mormon more.

Ich bin so dankbar, hier in Wien zu sein! Meine neue Mitarbeiterin und ich werden eifrig arbeiten, um die Auserwählte Menschen zu finden. Hoffentlich ist sie bereit, Wunder zu sehen :)
(I am very grateful to be here in Vienna! My new companion and I will work hard to find the elect. I hope she is ready to see miracles.)
Tschüss! Ich hab euch lieb!

--Sister Stewart

P.S. the guy sitting next to me at the Internet Cafe just asked if it was OK if he smoked (which people do in the Internet Cafe all the time even though it is NOT ALLOWED.) I told him I would rather that he not, and then he didn't! Hooray for people who are still polite! Hooray for small victories!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Baptism!

We had a baptism yesterday! Hooray! It was a wonderful day. N's family basically took care of the whole thing. Her mother and her two aunts made amazing food; her brother baptized her and her cousin gave one of the talks. Sister Taysom said the closing prayer and I played the piano, so we were able to have a small part of it too :) The water was sooo cold (apparently the hot water was not working) and she had to be dunked twice, but she is baptized! Most of the ward was there (it was just right after church) and Sister Taysom and I had four investigators there, the Zone Leaders had another one and then the Elders from the Third Ward brought two more. So fun! Baptism days are the best.

This past week we had Zone Conference. It was so great to be able to meet with President and Sister Miles and the other missionaries in our Zone. We talked a lot about using the Book of Mormon and how effective a tool it is to find people and to teach people. And then after we left Zone Conference that day we were able to give out two copies of the Book of Mormon just in the U-Bahn! At our appointment that night we were teaching Y L and her mother and sister, our Chinese family. We were trying to explain what commandments were, but not doing a very good job of it (language barrier). So then we turned to the back of the Chinese Book of Mormon and they found "Commandments" in the Index and started looking up all these scriptures that talk about them. They did it all on their own. It was so cool to see them actually using the Book of Mormon by themselves to find answers to their questions.

Thursday night we had an interesting appointment. It was with a less active member of our ward. We thought we were just going over to teach her, but when we got there, she had two friends over, plus two of her daughters and their boyfriends. The TV was on and they were all eating dinner together. It was a little chaotic. We were like "uhhhh, okay" She gave us something to eat, and we decided we would just eat and then maybe try and share a little thought and then go. BUT  THEN, one of her friends (who we have given a Book of Mormon to before) asked us a question about it and all of a sudden all the attention was focused on us. We turned the TV off and just started answering their questions. One of the member's daughters is really genuinely interested and we gave Books of Mormon to both the boyfriends. It was just amazing to see how fast the appointment turned around. It ended up being one of the best appointments I have had so far on my mission.

Some other tidbits
-I play the piano in Relief Society, guess I need to find some time to practice
-If you have the book "Teaching of the Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith" that is being used for Relief Society this year, if you look at page 168, that's a picture of our chapel here in Vienna, and the people are from the Vienna 2nd ward, which also meets in our building
-Even though I live in Vienna, I hardly know any Austrians

Diese Woche habe ich viele gute Erlebnisse gehabt. Es ist wunderbar zu sehen, wie der Herr diese Arbeit führt. Obwohl es nicht immer leicht ist, er wird uns immer helfen, diese Arbeit zu tun, weil es ihm so wichtig ist. Ich bin dankbar sein Werkzeug hier in Österreich zu sein für diese kurze Zeit. Ich weiß, wenn ich mein Beste gebe, wird es genug sein. Ich weiß, dass die Kirche wahr ist und dass Gott uns liebt.
(This week I have had many good experiences. It is wonderful to see how the Lord leads this work. Although it is not always easy to do, he will always help us because it is so important to him. I am grateful to be one of His tools her in Austria for a short time. I know when I do my best, it will be enough. I know that the Church is true and that God loves us.)

Tschüss! Baba!
--Sister Stewart

Monday, August 13, 2012

Taufe nächste Woche! (Baptism this week!)

Hallo zusammen!

This past week has been pretty good. Last Monday on P-Day we went to a park and played on giant swings with the Elders. The playgrounds in Germany and Austria are ridiculous. You would never find anything like them in the U.S. (probably because of the liability). Of course the Elders made a competition of who could touch these block things at the top of the hill ten times, I was just grateful to be able to get on the swing at all :)

We were able to meet with K (who we met last week, the one we ran into again on the U-Bahn) twice before she flew to Peru. We gave her a Spanish Book of Mormon. She told us how she has a strong faith in Christ; she just hasn't found a church yet. She said she will be gone until about the end of September! We will definitely be calling her when she is back.

N had her baptismal interview yesterday! So it looks like we will have a baptism this Sunday! YES! N is so great, she has grown up in the church her whole life, she just isn't baptized yet because her father didn't support it when she was a kid. But now she is an adult and can make her own decisions. Hopefully her brother, who was baptized last year, will baptize her :) The ward is very excited for her, so we should have a good turnout.

This past week we were also able to meet with S, a member from Nepal. She and her husband joined the church about two years ago and they just had a baby. Even though they live in very humble circumstances very far from their families, they have such strong faith.

I am getting more familiar with getting around in Vienna. Let me tell you, we definitely get our money's worth out of our monthly tickets. I think we spend more time in the U-Bahns, Trams, and Busses than anybody else. I knew the transportation system in Munich like the back of my hand and I am getting there in Vienna. I can hardly remember what it is like to just get in a car and go. Being on public transportation as a missionary is good though, because it gives us more opportunities to talk with people (they can't walk away, ha ha!)

This Sunday I gave a talk on "Why do we go to the temple?" in Sacrament meeting. As I was thinking about it, I realized the main reason I go to the temple is to feel the Spirit there. Because it is a place so separate from the rest of the world, I am able to feel the Spirit there unlike any other place on earth. I love the feeling of being able to put my watch and cell phone in the locker and just focus on Heavenly Father and listening for His voice. Our ward is going to the temple this week in Frankfurt, which is outside the mission. Because of our mission boundaries and the fact that I will probably never serve in Switzerland (sniffle, sniffle, tear, tear) I may not get to the temple on my mission. So for those of you who can, go to the temple! Go often!

Ich weiß, dass mein Himmlischer Vater mich liebt. Ich weiß es gewiss. Ich will, dass andere Menschen diese Erkenntnis erlangen. Deshalb bin ich auf Mission. Obwohl es manchmal schwer ist und es gibt so viel, was wir tun müssen, es hilft mir immer daran zu denken, warum ich hier bin.
(I know that my Heavenly Father lives. I know it without a doubt. I want other people to obtain this knowledge. That’s why I’m on a mission. Although it is sometimes difficult and there is so much we must do, it always helps me when I remember why I am here.)

Tschüss! Mach's gut!
--Sister Stewart

Monday, August 6, 2012

It is very hot, but miracles happen!

Guten tag!

The thing that I think about most when I think about this past week,
is how hot it has been. Luckily, since I grew up in Virginia, I am
used to hot, humid weather. Despite the weather we have been able to
see some great progress with the people we are teaching.

N is our investigator with a baptismal date. Things with her are
going great. She grew up in the church and is very familiar with the
gospel and really has a testimony that it is true, she just hasn't
gotten baptized before because her dad was against it. It is exciting
that we get to be the missionaries to 'seal the deal' and see her
enter the waters of baptism. We met with her this past week and went
over the baptismal interview questions with her, now we just have to
set up the interview and put together the program for the baptism!

The Chinese family we teach has been making great progress. The Mama
in particular has developed so much faith and wants to be baptized.
The problem is she is only visiting here in Austria and when she goes
back to China, she will have no support at all in the town where she
lives. Sometimes, I just get mad at how unfair the world can be. I
just have to remind myself that God has a plan (Sister Taysom always
tells me of this). The family will pray together about what they
should do.

My favorite story from this week is Karina. On Wednesday, as Sister
Taysom and I were on the way to Leadership Training, a woman came up
to us and asked if we were on the way to church. She then said 'I just
really need to find a church.' So we started talking to her and it
turns out we were getting on the same Strassenbahn, which drives right
past the church on Silbergasse, so we were able to show it to her. She
is from Peru, and her family still lives there. It is really hard for
her right now because her mom is sick in the hospital. She can't fly
home to see her until the end of this week. We got her phone number
and told her we would call.

Then on Thursday as we were heading out for the day, we saw her again!
It was actually a miracle because we checked the mail on the way out
and the mission newsletter was there, so we read that for a few
minutes, which caused us to just miss the U-Bahn when we got to the
station, so we had to wait for the next one. And when we got in the
next train, guess who was there? Karina! She told us how the night
before she had been feeling really sad and weak, but then she thought
of us. Her mom had gotten worse. I gave her a Book of Mormon in German
(if only I had had a Spanish one on me!) and committed her to read. It
was just really cool because at that moment I could tell she just
needed someone to talk to, and Heavenly Father sent us.

Some random tidbits from this past week-
-Up until Friday, I had not eaten at McDonald's on my mission (not
because I don't like it, just because I never really had the
opportunity). Then on Friday by some twist of fate we ended up eating
at McDonald's not once, but twice.
-On Tuesday at English class we had 5 men (no women), most of whom are
Muslim. It was hilarious.
-I have applied for an Austrian visa! Hopefully it will come soon
(Sister Taysom still doesn't have hers) I can be in Austria for three
months without a visa, so we're good for now.

Manchmal kann ich kaum glauben, dass ich auf Mission in WIEN sind. Es
ist so cool! Ich habe besonders diese Woche gesehen, wie der Herr uns
segnet, wenn wir gehorsam sind. Ich bin einfach glücklich, wenn ich
die Gebote und die Missionsregeln halte. Obwohl wir vielleich nicht so
viele Taufen sehen, der Herr segnet uns. Wenn wir unser Bestes geben,
werden wir erfolgreich sein, egal ob die Leute unsere Botschaft
annehmen oder nicht.
(Sometimes I can hardly believe that I have a mission in VIENNA.  Ii is so cool! I have particularly seen this week, how the Lord our blesses us when we are obedient. I'm just happy when I follow the commandments and mission rules. Although we are not seeing many baptisms, the Lord will bless us. If we do our best to we will be successful, no matter whether the people accept our message or not.)

Alles Gute!
--Sister Stewart