Monday, January 28, 2013

Miracles Happen!

Guten Tag!

This past week we were so blessed, it is amazing to see how the Lord guides this work.

Last Monday I found out that W, the Chinese investigator in Wien, was going to get baptized on January 26, i.e. this last Saturday! That is a miracle! Other missionaries found W about a week before I got to Wien. We taught her pretty consistently all 4 transfers that I was there; we just couldn't commit her to baptism because her dad wouldn't allow it. But then a couple weeks ago a miracle happened: her dad had a change of heart and said she was old enough to make her own decisions, and if she wanted to get baptized, she could! Oh man so cool! It was too far away for me to go to the baptism, but I did get to call her on the phone and talk to her. She was just so giggly and happy, it made my day. I told her to keep reading, praying, and coming to church. She said "I will. I very much like going to church" :) I am so happy for her, she really deserves this.

We were able to meet with K (who we found on Monday) again on Friday! She didn't come to church this week, but I am still very optimistic about her. We taught about prophets and she was just so excited to find out that we have a prophet RIGHT NOW, TODAY, and that his name is Thomas S. Monson :)

My worst fear came true this week: We got stuck in a little Dörfchen (smaller than a village, basically a group of about ten houses on a road up in the middle of a forest) because we either missed the bus or it didn't come and the next one didn't come for 2 HOURS. Luckily the member we had visited took pity on us and drove us to the next village over where the busses come every 30 minutes, thank goodness. Riding busses out to little villages scares me because I always have this fear that we are going to get stuck. I am more used to the city where the worst that can happen is you wait for 20 minutes. Well, I guess it is all just part of the experience!

This week we also had an Austausch (exchange), I worked with Sister Garrett here in Göppingen. We visited an investigator, a less active and then rang some doorbells, a very balanced day of missionary work :)

So last night when we sat down to plan, I discovered that I had lost my planner. I started to have a minor panic attack because my planner is what keeps me on an even keel. It was raining and I was scared that the planner had fallen out of my pocket on the way home and was lying in the street somewhere getting soaked. We called the member we had just visited and she said she didn't see it in her apartment. So we decided to go out and look for it. Before we did so we knelt and said a prayer. Right after we finished, the phone rang. It was the member: she had found my planner! I was so grateful, it turned a not so great evening into a little testimony building experience that God hears our prayers and is watching out for us.

God answers prayers. Miracles happen.

Ich bin dankbar, auf Mission zu sein. Manchmal denke ich über alles was in dem Jahr passiert ist und ich kann es kaum glauben. Ich habe so viele Wunder gesehen. Ich habe meinen Himmlische Vater besser kennen gelernt und habe ein festes Zeugnis, dass er mich liebt. Es lohnt sich, auf Mission zu gehen!
(I am grateful to be on a mission. Sometimes I think about all that has happened in a year and I can hardly believe it. I have seen so many miracles. I gotten to know my Heavenly Father better and have a strong testimony that he loves me. It pays to be a missionary!)

--Sister Stewart

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Weiter, immer weiter (Onward, ever onward)

Hallo liebe Familie!

Ahhh, I have so much to write and so little time to do so. 
This past week we have been so blessed. It has been amazing to begin to see some of the fruits of our labors here in Göppingen. The most exciting part: In the past couple days we have found 3 new investigators! Yeah!

The first pair we found is an older Polish couple. We contacted the wife on the street on my second day in Göppingen, and yesterday we were finally able to get an appointment with them! They are so adorable. The wife told us "I have been waiting for something like this" :)  I am so excited to get to teach them more!

The other investigator we found just this morning. We normally work in the evenings on P-Days, but today we have something else to do in the evening, so we decided to work this morning. Sister Ackerman felt like we should go to Schlat, the golden town. We walked all the way to the edge of town and then started ringing doorbells on our way back. The second house we ring the bell and a woman answers the door. We literally said the words "Jesus Christ" and she let us right in :) She is amazing. She only really started believing in God and Christ about 4 years ago. Right now she is getting a divorce. She kept telling us how crazy it was that we were there that day, because she had been feeling pretty sad about the whole thing. She was so excited to read the Book of Mormon and we are going back on Friday! YES!

The whole week was full of amazing happenings.
Saturday we rode a bus with a bunch of people going out to celebrate Fasching (the pre-Lent Carnival). They were dressed in crazy costumes and were a little on the inebriated side. The bus was packed full. The driver drove past our stop, and because the bus was full, we couldn't get up to the front to tell him. Luckily there was an older lady who ran to the front and told him when she got off at her stop. We ended up having to ride the bus to the end (literally in the middle of nowhere) and then back to our stop. We were an hour late for our appointment. Luckily, the member we were visiting still had some time. And then on the bus back, we saw the same lady from before! We were able to have a really nice conversation with her and we gave her a card with our number and the church address.

Thursday there was a Relief Society activity. We got to watch a movie :) It is called Silent Night, and is about how the Christmas song was written. And there is now a ton of snow in Göppingen, so it was like a little Christmas replay :)

Oh! I have officially been out on my mission ONE year! Friday was my year mark. We just worked hard and then made some cake in the evening :) Only six months left, I can hardly believe it.

Winter is in full swing here, we have gotten quite a bit of snow and ice in the past few weeks. My most prized possession right now is the pair of mittens I bought last year in Munich. They keep my fingers nice and toasty :) I just hope my boots last until winter is over!

Manchmal müssen wir einfach arbeiten, arbeiten, arbeiten, und dan irgenwann kommen die Segnungen. Der Herr hat ein Zeitplan, wir müssen einfach eifrig sein und darauf vertrauen, dass wenn es so weit ist, die Wunder werden geschehen.
(Sometimes we just need to work, work, and work and then at some point the blessings come. The Lord has a schedule, we have to be diligent and trust that the miracles will come.) 

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Halleluja! Our window closes :)


It has been an awesome week here in Göppingen. The members here take care of us very well.  They may have to roll me away from Göppingen I am eating such good food so often. 

One of my favorite moments from this week was when we were eating lunch with a family in our branch. They have a six year old daughter who had just lost a tooth and was so, so excited to put it under her pillow for the tooth fairy. Unfortunately, the envelope she was carrying it in ripped and she lost it in the gravel in front of their house. This gravel is made of a mixture of little gray, black and WHITE stones. So, as you can imagine, tears ensued. The world as she knew it had come to an end. The 13 year old daughter went to go comfort her; meanwhile, the mom asked if we would go look for the tooth with her. Before heading out we said a quick prayer. Then we went to the front of the house and bent over the gravel and started looking. I kid you not, about 1 minute into our search, Sister Ackerman calls out "Gefunden!" She found it! The mom was so happy, the little girl's tears dried right up, and we put the tooth in a little tupperware for safe keeping. 
The best part was how the mom took a minute to talk to her daughter about what had happened. She told her that her Heavenly Father is there and that He knows her and loves her. They said a thank you prayer together. As we were sharing the spiritual thought later, the mom talked again about how it wasn't the tooth itself that was important, but the fact that it was important to the 6 year old. She lost it, which made her unhappy, which in turn made her mom unhappy because she was sad. That in turn made Heavenly Father sad because His daughters were sad. And because Heavenly Father loves His daughters, He took the time to answer this small little prayer and put smiles back on the faces of a mom and a daughter. 

That made me think more about how the Lord really is in the details of our lives. He is in the small moments, in the small things. Sometimes the smallest things have the biggest meaning. That moment with that family was a perfect example to me of how God is always looking out for us. Other people might look at our situation and wonder why we worry about "silly" things, but God knows what's important to us, and everything will be okay in the end. 

On Tuesday we went on a "Finding Day" (basically tracting all afternoon) with the Elders in the neighboring area of Ellwangen. We were Klingeling (i.e. ringing door bells) when the most adorable family from Afghanistan actually let us in! It was so cool, they gave us a place on their couch, brought us water to drink and we just talked to them about Christ and prophets and the Book of Mormon. We ended up giving away some copies of the Book of Mormon (one English, one German) and promised them that the Elders would be coming by with some more books in Persian. They even had a few friends over who were also interested :) That was pretty much one of the best lessons I have ever taught. 

Saturday we headed out to Heidenheim, a town that is in our area but is a whopping one and a half hours away with the train. We went out to visit a member family there and to try and find some new people. We doored into this older woman whose husband died last year (they were together 60 years!). It was a sweet experience to testify to her that she can see her husband again someday. 

Sunday after church we spent the afternoon visiting some of the older sisters in the ward who because of their health can no longer come to church. It was the perfect way to end out the week :)

Ich weiß, dass wir niemals allein sind. Manchmal fühlen wir uns ganz klein, aber Gott denkt an uns immer. Er liebt uns und will, dass wir glücklich sind.
(I know that we are never alone. Sometimes we feel quite insignificant, but God is always aware of us. He loves us and wants us to be happy.) 

--Sister Stewart 

p.s. As to the title of the e-mail- today they came and fixed our window so that it actually latches. Hooray for not having to bundle up all the time! We are very excited :) After they were done it was the funniest thing, one of the fix it men actually said "Halleluja!"

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Back in Germany and it feels so good!

Guten Tag from Göppingen! I can hardly believe I'm in Germany again! I already love it here and am so excited for all the work that Sister Ackermann and I are going to do here in this little part of the vineyard.
Last week leaving Wien it was sad to say goodbye to everyone. We spent New Year's Eve with a Filipino family. We ate, sang Karaoke, and watched fireworks. They go all out with the fireworks on New Years here, it was intense. Tuesday we met with W. I will miss that girl so much. She is like a little Chinese ray of sunshine. We found a newer translation of the Book of Mormon in Chinese for her than the one she had and helped her find the Gospel Library in Chinese to put on her phone. She was so excited, now she has all the scriptures at the touch of a finger. After meeting with W, we went and ate Nepali dumplings (called momo) with B, N and S. They stuffed us to the max, it was so tasty. And we gave a Book of Mormon to one of their friends that was there :) 

On Wednesday I had to say goodbye to D. That actually wasn't too bad, because I know I will see her in the not too distant future, since she's from Virginia :) She loved the little testimony book that Sister Reid and I put together for her. We had everyone at the baptism right down their testimonies, so now she has a nice little memento of the day and also a spiritual boost whenever she needs one. 

Thursday I was on trains for a LONG time. We started with the four and a half hour train ride from Wien to Munich. Then we changed trains for the three hour ride to Stuttgart. That train was packed and we had to stand the whole time, not so fun. Then Sister Ackermann picked me up and we rode the train 40 minutes to Göppingen. Göppingen is A LOT smaller than Munich or Wien (but that's not hard because they are massive). I like it a lot. We will be doing a lot of work in the surrounding villages (or Dorf as they are called in German, probably the word I will use more often). The branch is on the smaller side, they meet in rented rooms in a commercial building. The members are all the nicest people you will ever meet. It was strange to be back in a German speaking ward, but also felt good to exercise my German muscles again.

This past weekend Sister Ackermann and I had a lot of success in a little Dorf called Schlat, about 30 minutes by bus outside of Göppingen. We tracted in a really fancy pants neighborhood (all new houses, all very nice). I doubted how much success we would have but we actually gave someone a Book of Mormon there! He had a visitor so he told us to come back later, and that we will do :) We found some other cool people in Schlat, so we will definitely be returning there later this week to follow up with them. Sister Ackermann's theory is that there is someone awesome just waiting to be baptized in Schlat, that's why we are having so much success there.

Ich weiß, dass ich an der richtige Ort bin. Ich weiß, dass diese Arbeit die Arbeit des Herrn ist. Ich bin so dankbar, hier in Göppingen zu sein und die Liebe Gottes mit den Menschen zu teilen.
 (I know that I am in the right place. I know that this is the Lord’s work. I am glad to be in Göppingen and sharing the love of God with everyone.)

Mach's gut!
--Sister Stewart