Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Denn Gott hat die Welt so sehr geliebt (For God so loved the world)

How I got lucky enough to serve here I do not know.

This past week was great! My favorite day was Friday: We had 4 appointments scheduled, none of them fell out, and we found 3 new investigators! Hooray! Oh man it was an amazing day. We met first with J, who is from Africa. She had met with the Sisters a year ago. This past Sunday she came to church and said she would like to meet with us! Hooray for long lost investigators coming out of the woodwork! As J was leaving (we met with her at the church) who should walk in but W, our very favorite Chinese investigator. She was 40 minutes early :) We asked her "W, why are you so early?" She said "Well, I was out shopping and I thought 'I should stop' so I came here" Oh man I love that girl. She is so funny. Then later that evening we went to have FHE with a member in our ward. We talked about faith in Jesus Christ and then played Uno with her and her two roommates. Then afterwards her roommates told us they would like to learn more about the church! They are the cutest couple from Nepal. Our last appointment that day was with B, another member. She is from Africa. We talked more about Jesus Christ (of course). My favorite part of that lesson was that B wrote down all the scripture references we shared with her :)

During our lesson with W she asked us, "Why do you talk so much about Jesus Christ and not so much about the God?" We turned the question right around and asked her "Well, what do you think?" Then she said "Well, 'the God' (that's how she refers to Heavenly Father, always as 'the God') sent Jesus to the earth for us. And Jesus is His son, so He did all the things the God wanted to do for us" Yup, that's exactly right. It made me think more about how God and Christ really are one in purpose. Everything that Jesus did, He did because His Father commanded him to. So, when we talk about Jesus Christ, what we are really talking about is God's love for us.

Things that broke this week:

-Our cell phone. I may or may not have gotten the SIM card stuck in upside down. We had to take it into the store, where the clerk fixed it by carefully sticking a box cutter into the SIM card and pulling it out. I’ve never seen someone do that before.

-Our washer. There was a fair bit of water left in it that then spilled onto the floor. We mopped it all up. Then I had to make approximately five million phone calls to get it fixed (I'm not a fan of talking on the phone to people I don't know)

On Saturday we went to a Filipino birthday party. Some of the members were telling us how when they served their missions in the Philippines, sometimes the missionaries would live in the same building where the church meetings were. Sometimes there wasn't enough space downstairs for all the classes, so the missionaries would hold meetings in their apartment upstairs. It is so weird to think about how different a mission that must have been.

Ich weiß, dass mein Himmlischer Vater mich liebt. Er hat mich so viel schon gesegnet und ich weiß, dass er mich weiterhin segnen wird. Ich muss nur mein Bestes geben, ihm zu folgen. Es gibt so viele Beweise für seine Liebe. Das größte ist, dass er seinen Sohn Jesus Christus gab, damit wir alle eines Tages zu ihm zurückkehren können.
(I know that my Heavenly Father loves me. He has blessed me so much already and I know that he will continue to bless me. I just have to do my best to follow him. There are so many proofs of his love. The biggest is that he gave us His only son, Jesus Christ, so that we can all return to him one day.)

Mach's gut! Ich hab euch lieb! (Take care! I love you!)
--Sister Stewart

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weihnachten in Wien! (Christmas in Vienna)

Well, we got transfer calls on Friday: We're both staying!! I don't know how we pulled that off. I am excited to be able to spend my birthday and Christmas in a city I know so well, with a companion I get along great with, and with members and investigators that I have really come to love. It will be awesome!

This past week we were able to teach D twice. Once at Family Home Evening with the Bishop's family and one more time before she went out of town for Thanksgiving. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Sister Reid and I have gotten to know her. Sooner or later the Spirit will 'prick her heart' and she will get baptized. It's only a matter of time for that one :)

We also were able to meet twice with W, the music student from China. She is doing great at praying every day and coming to church most weeks, her main problem is finding the time to read in the scriptures every day, so that's what we've really been pushing with her. We read 1 Nephi 17 with her the other day and she really related to the story and was excited to read more!

They have started to put on Christmas lights on the streets of Wien, I'm just waiting for them to turn them all on! Some are on in the evenings, but there are still lots more. Oh, the city will look magical!

This past week we learned a lot about opening up more to the people we meet in the trains and on the streets. We practiced answering questions like "What are you doing here? Why did you come?" Normally I just give some sort of plain vanilla answer "Well, I'm a missionary for my church..." But what we learned and practiced recently was really opening up to the people and telling them the real reason you're here, letting them get to know you on a more personal level, because then they will be more likely to feel the spirit and to open up in return. I have been trying that out recently and the results are amazing! We were talking to this medical student the other day and he asked "So why did you come on a mission?" I was so excited to put my new training into effect. I told him about how the knowledge I have of the gospel really is a sure foundation for my life and how I realized that I want others to have that foundation as well. He really connected with that and we gave him a Book of Mormon and took his phone number! (Unfortunately he's German speaking so we had to pass him off, drat!)

This past Sunday we had a member come who got baptized in Ukraine in 2006, but has since moved here and lost contact with the church. She brought her little boy and stayed for the whole time! I hope we will be able to help her out, communication is a problem but luckily our ward clerk speaks Russian. And we invited the people from our English class to church and some of them came!

Some of the funnier stories from this week-
-We had FHE with the Bishop's family on Monday, at which we played a Ninja Lego game. I am still not too sure on what all the rules were; I just know it involved fighting Guards and finding Golden Weapons
-On Wednesday we ate dinner twice (it was an accident)
-On Saturday we went over to a member's house for dinner and turns out she also invited her friend (who we have taught a couple times) and didn't tell her we would be there. We were able to have a really nice lesson together. The look on the friend's face when she walked in was priceless.

Ich weiß, dass ich in der richtige Ort bin. Egal, wo der Herr mir schickt, werde ich seine Arbeit tun. Es ist wunderbar zu sehen, wie der Geist auf andere Leute wirkt und sie hilft, die richtige Entscheidungen zu treffen. Diese Arbeit ist wirklich die Arbeit des Herrn!
(I know that I am where I belong. No matter where the Lord sends me, I will do the work. It is wonderful to see how the spirit works on others and helps you to make the right choices. This work is truly the work of the Lord!

mit lieben Grüßen,  (with much love!)
--Sister Stewart

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Grasshopper and the Ant


Oh man, I love serving here so much. The ward here is like no other ward I have ever been in, nor will ever be in again. I can't believe how lucky I am that I got to serve here. Transfer calls are this Friday and who knows where they could send me next. I do know that wherever they send me will be exactly where I am supposed to go, but I will miss Vienna a lot.

This week we did an exchange! I got to go work in Graz for a day with Sister Holmstead. That was lots of fun :) Graz is a cool city, definitely smaller than Vienna or Munich, so it was a nice change of pace to be doing missionary work there. Sister Holmstead is one of the funniest people I have ever met. She is also an amazing missionary to teach with, because she really thinks and considers her words before she says them, which makes the people respect what she says a lot more. That is something I want to get better at. Sometimes I just start talking without really knowing where the sentence is going and it gets all twisted around itself. The train ride from Graz was also gorgeous. One of my favorite parts of this mission is the train rides we get to take :)

On Thursday we taught our favorite little family from Vietnam again. We had left them the Restoration DVD and we asked them if they had gotten a chance to watch it. The mom said "I think I watched it 10 times. Maybe more. It's now one of my daughter’s favorites" :)

On Saturday we did a "Finding Day" with our District, which we are now doing every week. Basically we spend one afternoon a week out on the streets talking to people. Sister Reid and I were in Baden, a smaller town about 20 minutes outside of Vienna. We walked around the pedestrian zone for a couple hours. The town was setting up their Christmas lights :) I am so glad that Christmas is coming soon and that there will be lights on at night, because it gets so dark so early here. Seeing all the preparations for the holiday is making me excited!

On Sunday we went to church twice: once in German, and once in English. We had an investigator that we brought to the German speaking ward. So fun, but also very exhausting!

One of my favorite parts of this week was the Relief Society lesson in our ward. This week we were talking about temporal salvation, so one of the topics we were discussing was food storage and being prepared with enough so that your family could get along if something were to happen. Well, as the discussion is going on, the story of the ant and the grasshopper came up. It's a children’s story that has a good moral about being prepared. Sister Picard, who is French, told it. It goes something like this: There once was a grasshopper and an ant. The whole summer long all the grasshopper did was lie out in the sun and sing, while the ant worked busily storing up food for the winter. The grasshopper made fun of the ant and told him that he should just enjoy life, it was summer after all! Then winter came and the ant was all snug in his house with lots of food. The grasshopper came to his door and said please, can I have some of your food? The ant said, no you sang all summer long, and now you can dance.

I kid you not, as soon as Sister Picard finished telling this story, Sister Appiateng, who is from Ghana, piped up from across the room "You forgot the next part. And then the grasshopper died of starvation and the ant added him to his food storage!" We all DIED of laughter. The timing was priceless. I love being in this ward for that very reason: we get so many different opinions and viewpoints that it is never ever boring.

One of our investigators finished the Book of Mormon on Sunday! I think that is the first time I have had that happen on my whole mission. I am really close to finishing too, I just have Ether and Moroni left. And then in January I will start it all over again and read with it with the whole mission!

Ich bin so dankbar für die heilige Schriften. Sie bedeuten mir viel. Das Buch Mormon ist ein Beweis dafür, dass Gott uns liebt. Weil er uns liebt, hat er uns weiter heilige Schrift gegeben. Er spricht zu uns immer noch heute, durch seinen Propheten. Auf Mission haben wir viel Zeit, in den Schriften zu lesen, wofür ich sehr dankbar bin. Ich lerne jeden Tag etwas neues!
(I am so grateful for the scriptures. They mean so much to me. The Book of Mormon is a proof that God loves us. Because he loves us he has given us another scripture. He still speaks to us today through his prophet. On  a mission we have plenty of time to read the scriptures, for which I am very grateful. I learn something new every day.)

Tschüss! Ich hab euch lieb!
--Sister Stewart

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I think we are teaching a person from almost every continent!

Hallo liebe Freunde und Familie!

I continue to be surprised by how much the Lord really does bless us. Truly I notice His hand in this work daily. And I guess that shouldn't be too surprising, because after all, it is His work.

I love the ward here so much, and I love being in the city. It will be strange when (and if) I get transferred somewhere else that is not a big city. I don't know if I know how to be a missionary outside of a city... I might actually get to do all of my study time, and take all of my lunch and dinner breaks! In the city we just go, go, go, which I love, but also can be exhausting.

This past week was Halloween! I wore my Halloween socks and baked a Halloween cake (thanks mom!) that we then shared with D. I even saw a couple kids dressed up.

I will just take this moment to list the nationalities of the people that with met with last week (members and investigators) - Serbia, Hungary, Thailand, Iran, Vietnam, USA, Poland and China. Not a bad sampling of the world. I guess there is a reason it is called the International Ward.

One of my favorite things that we do is teach English class. We teach at the center for young adults. It is a free class that we do for an hour two times a week. The interesting thing is that the vast majority of our students are from Iran. They are either Christian or Zoroastrian and are fleeing Iran and trying to go to America to get a better life. They come here so they can wait for their visas. It is a lot of fun to teach, because they only speak Farsi and a very little bit of English, so we have to take it slow. But they are just about the nicest people you will ever meet. In Iran they are forced to live by the rules of the Muslim government, and all they want to have is religious freedom. Seeing them makes me think about all the people who have come to the US over the last couple hundred years, just looking for a better chance at life. I wonder about the circumstances of some of my own ancestors. It is cool that we can have some little part in helping them along their way.

They are starting to set up the Christmas markets! It is strange because in America there hasn't even been Thanksgiving yet, but here the Christmas markets open up around the middle of November. There is a big one right by the town hall that we pass by a lot and they are already decorating the booths!

Yesterday I taught the lesson in Sunday School. It was about Family Responsibilities. As I was preparing for and teaching the lesson, I really gained a better appreciation for my own family, especially my parents. I have been so blessed in my life to have the parents that I do. Thanks Mom and Dad for setting such a good example for me :) Some of the things I was remembering as I was preparing the lesson were Dad reading to us every night, or Mom asking us every day after school "What did you learn today?" or telling us as we headed out the door "Make good choices!" On my mission I have gained a deeper testimony of the importance of family and how important it is that we have that good foundation in our lives.

We are currently teaching the cutest little family from Vietnam. A whole family! They have two little kids and are here while the dad is getting his PhD. The language is a little hard, but luckily the church has lots of resources. The mom committed to come to church with us this Sunday! She is a little hesitant, but we reassured her that we will be with her every step of the way. I am so exciting to see what happens with them!

Ich weiss, dass der Herr alle seine Kinder liebt. Egal welche Sprache sie sprechen, Ich kann vielleicht die Leute nicht perfekt verstehen, aber ihre Himmlische Vater kennt sie und weisst genau, was sie brauchen. Wenn wir andere Menschen besser kennen lernen, dann lernen wir Gott besser kennen. Sie sind seine Kinder, genau wie uns. Er liebt uns alle!
(I know that the Lord loves all his Children. No matter what language they speak, while I may not understand them perfectly, Heavenly Father knows them and their needs. When we get to know others better, we learn more about God. They are his children just the same as us. He loves us all!)

Mach's gut! Ich habe euch lieb!
--Sister Stewart