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Monday, February 24, 2014

Yellow Butterflies!

Salzburg District before transfers last week

At the Silent Night Chapel in Oberndorf

Hallo Liebe Familie und Freunde!

I hope all of your weeks have been as sun filled and bright as they've been here in Salzburg!  It's crazy to think a week has gone by already, transfers always seem to throw things off.  But it's great to have another beginning and another opportunity to set goals and push ourselves more than even before.  I suppose being a missionary is comparable to making new years resolutions, but you do it every 6 weeks!

This week there didn't seem to be any huge phenomenal experiences that I felt to share.  For the most part, it was just a week full of beautiful experiences that make up a happy life.  

One highlight was that we had a Stake Conference and something really cool is happening in our stake.  We had a special meeting before Stake Conference and had all of the missionaries in the stake meet together with their ward mission leaders and Bishops to talk about a new Stake plan we are doing to find more people and involve more members.  It was so cool to see the Stake (and not the mission) come up with and introduce a new and exciting finding idea!  That's really how it should be, we as missionaries are just tools to help the wards and stakes further their missionary efforts.

The meeting was awesome, and let's be realistic, you get 30 missionaries together and it can't help but be fun!  We're pretty spread out here in the Salzburg Zone so it was great to see everyone.  The Brixen Sisters slept over and it was funny to watch our conversations go back and forth between German and English.  
Inline image 2
  (Finally got her Valentine packages--this is from her Wendy-Mom)
 
I was studying this morning about the charges that Christ gave to his Apostles before he was crucified.  Something really struck me in Matthew Chapter 10:8.  He ends his instruction with "Freely you have received, freely give."  I think about how I have really done nothing to have the blessing of being born and raised in a family where I was nurtured and raised with this Gospel.  More specifically, knowledge of who our Father in Heaven is and what my purpose of life is.  I really have received all of this freely.  

When I think about the charge to give of that knowledge freely, it takes a lot of pressure off of my shoulders.  He doesn't say, freely you have received, now go and run around telling everyone at the top of your voice. He says freely give.  To me this means to just give naturally, free of obligation, worry, or stress.  Just to give the knowledge of the Gospel simply, beautifully, and freely, the same way it comes into our lives.

I said there weren't any huge experiences to share but I totally forgot, today I saw not one but TWO Yellow Butterflies!  It's still February!  I couldn't believe it! The bees are out, some of the flowers are starting to bloom, and I am just the luckiest girl on the planet!   I LOVE SISTER CLARK! She is an all American Utah girl from American Fork and just the sweetest ever, she is super awesome. We are chatters and it is so fun to just chit chat and chit chat and chit chat! I love being a missionary! 

I love you all and I hope you have a phenomenal week!

Love,
Sister Henry



Monday, February 17, 2014

Good job, Wayne!




Thankfully, Sherry's former companions write to me too, because she forgot to tell us Sister Garrett is being transferred to Weiner Neustadt Austria and Sherry's new companion is Sister Chelsey Clark from American Fork Utah.  Sister Peterson said they will "tear up Salzburg with kindness." And we were all just thrilled to find out Elder Root is finishing off his mission where she started--in Freiburg! 

So I can check one thing off of my mission bucket list!  We were getting on the bus to go to Europark and teach a lesson at Starbucks (I love being a missionary) when I saw a couple of empty seats and had to make the split second decision of who to talk to.  Sister Garrett and I almost always split up when we contact in public transportation just because it makes it more personable to talk to someone one on one.
I look to my left and there, next to an empty seat, what do I see?  A white collar.  Yes my dear friends, he was a Catholic priest.  I sit down and go, "Hi! How are you doing?  That is so cool you are a Priest because I am a missionary!"  We end up having a great discussion and he talks about how inspiring he finds it that someone young like me is dedicating this time in life to God.  He hadn't heard about the Book of Mormon or the Church before, and so we exchanged contact information and are going to meet!  That reminds me I have to call him.  Ah, emails home are such a blessing sometimes :)
But yes, missionary work has no bounds.  Maybe if I were just trying to get people baptized into the Mormon church it would have bounds.  But this work is way bigger than that, this is the work of God so of course a Catholic priest would be interested in meeting with us!  I am just still so stinking excited!  Yes!
I want you all to know how important it is that YOU are missionaries.  I was on Tausch (exchange) with Sister Erdenesogt and we started talking to a nice man sitting across from us on the S Bahn.  His name was T and we start off the usual way, "how are you?  Oh yeah, we're not from here, she's from Mongolia, I'm from America, etc."  When he finds out we are Mormon missionaries he gets really excited and talks about his friend Wayne in Florida who gave him a Book of Mormon!  He says he read in it a little bit, but can't say he read in it a ton.  We have a great chat and he lets us know that we are always welcome!

Washington girl pumping the gas
So we go and meet with him this past week, Alise one of our super awesome JAE's came with us, and it was great!  His 17 year old daughter was also there and we had a great discussion about the church, what we believe, what is important to us, etc.  Thomas let us know that he wasn't too interested in taking the discussions (we'll work on that) but his daughter A was very interested in the Church.  We offered her a Book of Mormon, which she then asked her dad if it would be okay.  He said of course!  She was so excited to get one, and really wants to come to Church!
The best part is that the real work, the work that made T and A open to the Gospel, wasn't Sister Garrett, Sister Erdensogt, and I at all!  A huge part was having Alise there to be able to talk about the Church from a normal person perspective.  We as missionaries are frankly weird, and if we are all people are exposed to, they would think the Church is really weird.  But when a member shares their life and their experience, it means a lot more to the person who is learning.
And I just can't help but be so proud of Wayne!  I have no idea who this guy is but he is awesome!  Because he wasn't afraid to share the joy he finds in the Gospel, and to share the Gospel by sharing a Book of Mormon, Thomas was willing to listen to us.  We talk about God softening the hearts of the children to receive the missionaries, but we forget how the hearts are softened.  I frankly believe it's the friendship and love of the members that opens the hearts for people to listen.  And let me tell ya, it's a lot easier to teach someone whose heart is open to listening!
This week was full of a lot of miracles and blessings.  This transfer I just felt thrown in the wringer but now looking back, it was a successful one!  I really am grateful to be here in Salzburg, I love this city!  Man, I am so blessed!  There is no better place to be than serving God all day long by serving his children!  Seriously, this work has made me the happiest I can remember.  It has brought such a depth and joy into my life!  You should all try it if you are not.  I am so grateful that my mission won't end with these 18 months but that these 18 months are really just the start!
I love you all so much!  I am so grateful that God has put you all in my life!
Love,
Sis Henry

From our chat: (about Elder Root's transfer to Freiburg) But yeah, the ward is going to LOVE him! He better tell them who he is! They'll flip! I love that ward so much, it just makes me so happy! That city is my favorite place ever!
Haha well when I heard I didn't believe Elder Halversen or Elder Stilger! But then I had to control myself not to think about it because I would get super excited and start listing in my mind all of the people I want him to say hi to for me. I am just so excited for him! But yep, it took the past 3 days to actually believe it! I am so excited, I just can't even explain!

This is my reward for God making me see him (Elder Root)! Ha! He owed me! Just kidding, but I am super happy about it.
(Rachel Zwingli Christensen wanted to know her reaction about finding out she is part Swiss) I know, how funny is it that we are Swiss! Now I want to go back! Some day!
From her letter to Wendy (her BYU Mom)
  I am the Sister Training Leader for a companionship in Brixen, a companionship in Wels, and a companionship in LInz.  So it is perfect because we don't have to do too many exchanges, but enough that we get to see a lot of stuff :)  [she also mentioned to me that "Being a STL isn't too bad, it's a lot less work than a zone leader so I'm lucky."]
The weather has been gorgeous!!!



Monday, February 10, 2014

"Woah, is this real life?" Ciao from Italia! And pday Sound of Music Tour!


I love Tirol!
On the train
Book of Mormon in German and Italian
 
Hmm not quite sure about this one...
Cathedral in Brixen
On the train ride
On the border of Austria and Italy (note the signs!)

The Lord blessed Sherry with her dream of traveling to Italy this week.  She loved it and the first thing she said to me this morning was "I am living in Sud Tirol some day!!!!"  Then for pday she went on a Sound of Music Tour!

  She is back to her bubbling over with happiness self this week.

(A few answers to Mom)
(The train trip to Italy:)
"It was awesome, the train was empty and so we had our own cabin and I had brought my speakers and we just listened to EFY music and looked at the pretty view!"
    "There are some photos of Innsbruck in there also.  The city with the snow covered mountains."

     " And then all of the ones starting at me with the painted cow are the Sound of Music tour.  Different sights.  Oh the picture of the building next to the fortress in that section is the actual abbey that Maria was in in real life.  Pretty cool!"







(How is the weather?)
The trees have started budding, the birds singing, and there have even been swans out.  Everyone is thinking that we just won't have a winter this year.  Some of the plants that bloom for Easter are already budding. Yep, so I am fine with this weather!  Plus, I didn't have to buy a real winter jacket!
     Can't believe you got so much snow!  I am jealous!  Apparently the southern part of the alps, that usually gets hardly any snow, has like 3 or 4 meters while we have none up here!  But I am not complaining, missionary work is hard when it is cold outside.  So I like this weather better :)

If someone had to pick a theme for this week, it would have to be "how many languages can a missionary have to speak on a mission?"

We had an awesome time going down to Brixen and doing a "Super-Tausch" with Sister Schoenherr and Kervinen!  While down there I learned one phrase in Italian (since the city is about 80 percent German speakers and 20 percent Italian speakers).  The phrase was, "I can only speak German"

Don't ask me to say it auf Italianisch...I forgot.

But we had another cool language event this week!  In our ward we've been really trying to contact all of the inactive members and see if they have interest to have contact with the church.  It's been super fun to reach out and help find the members who have just sort of slip between the cracks.

We went by on an inactive who said that she has no interest this last week.  She answered the door and she was the short older woman.  We were trying to talk with her but she didn't understand us and we couldn't understand her.  She gestured to her ears and it seemed like she was going to get her hearing aids.  While she went to the other room, I kinda did a sneaky secret agent look around and make sure she was the only one living there and that she was the old lady we were looking for.  I went back to the doorway and then she invited us in, but we were still having a real hard time understanding her.

Moving from SW Germany to Austria, I have gotten pretty used to not understanding the dialekts here.  There are just some people I won't understand.  But the hard part about this sister is that she couldn't understand me.  Strange, I know I have an American accent, but I didn't think it was that thick.

It was then I started looking around and I noticed all of the little notes, books, etc. in her house were in Spanish.  Click!  The lightbulb went on.  I used my tiny bit of Spanish I learned from a year in high school, about a week of Spanish 101 at Clark, and then the two weeks before my mission and communicated basically nothing but enough that we left her with a spiritual thought out of the Bible, we now have her phone number and she has ours, and she knows we are the Sisters.

She also told us her whole life story but all I could understand was Chile and Roberto...or Enrico.  Some sort of Spanish mans name.

Our Relief Society President served her mission Spanish speaking in the US so she'll be able to get the details.  But this sister definitely is okay with contact so hopefully we'll be able to get it all figured out!

And I can now say that we have taught a lesson in Spanish on my mission!  Booyeah!

This week really was one of those weeks that made me pause and think, "Woah! Is this real life?  There is no way."  There are always April showers before may flowers and my email last week was about the rain, this week brought all of the beautiful good stuff!

I got to spend a lot of time on the train just looking out the window at the Alps and thinking about where my life is and who I am.  I just can't believe how lucky and blessed I am, all because of the decisions to keep my covenants that I have made with God.  The saddest and most terrible parts of my life have been when I failed to keep his commandments, and the happiest times of my life are when I am consistently doing my best to keep them.  That is no coincidence!

God's will is really for all of us to be happy.  But we have to choose to follow his will if we are going to have that happiness.  You can't have your cake and eat it too.  You can't make choices contrary to God's commandments and then have the happiness promised by him to those who choose His will.  It just simply doesn't work that way.

It's pretty nice, the formula to being happy in life.  Keep the commandments: Be Happy.  Don't keep the commandments: Be Sad.  And not the good kind of sad that makes you appreciate happy moments.  The bad kind of sad that keeps you awake at night, stresses you out, and confuses your sense of purpose.

There were a lot of great General Conference talks this last Conference about God's will, the commandments, etc.  I would definitely encourage you all to check them out.

But yep, that's basically all of my email-worthy news for the week.  Fell in love with Italy, taught a lesson in Spanish.  Of course tons of other stuff happened, but that's what my mission journal is for.  Don't worry mom, I haven't missed a day yet I don't think.

This work really is the work of God.  There is just no way it would be going forward if it weren't!  Yes, contrary to popular belief, miracles in missionary work are even happening over here in Austria.  It looks different, but you can't help but feel the excitement in God's huge plan for these special people.  The hearts of the people in this part of the world are hearts of Gold!  They are some of the most amazing people I have met and I love them so much!

I also love all of you at home so much!  Hopefully you don't get sick of me saying it every week, but I do!  I am so grateful for everyone at home.  I can't wait to give you big hugs again some day!  But for now, the people here in Salzburg need the hugs a little bit more!

I love you all!
Love,
Sister Henry

Salzburg Zone Conference photos:



Monday, February 3, 2014

Thank You Mr. Gardener




 
   

I had a really rough week this week.
I was laying in my bed thinking about it. Over and over again I just thought to myself, "Why me?  Why in the world would you do this to me?  You know how hard it is, I don't want this.  You know I don't want this!  Why would you do it to me?"
Unlike a lot of times when I have to do something hard, I didn't feel afterwards like I had taken a dip in a crisp, fresh, lake.  Rather I felt emotionally and spiritually exhausted.  I kept asking myself, why would God send that to me?  Why would he do that to me?
I then was reminded of one of my favorite stories and it has actually been made into a cool little video.

To help me get through this mess I just kept thinking to myself, "Man!  I better start liking the taste of currant bush berries!"  But in all seriousness, I have never felt more pruned, I have never felt the refiners fire so hard than on my mission!  It's so funny, too, because I am on the Lord's errand!  You would think it would be a little easier since I am doing the things God wants me to do.
It all sort of goes back to the question that we as missionaries get asked probably the most.  If God really is our father and loves us, why are people suffering?  Why are people killing each other, hungry, afflicted with all sorts of disease and terrors?
In comparison to a lot of these trials, I obviously have no room to talk.  My seeming mountain is just a speed bump in comparison to some of the things others have experienced.  But I want to share a little insight that I found.
Everything we know and do really goes back to the plan of salvation.  This life is just a brief moment of our eternal existence.  When we know that life existed before this life and will exist after this life, it really puts these short 90-100 years in perspective. 
After this life, we will eventually find ourselves in a state of happiness, rest, and peace.  In that state, nothing will harm us, hurt us, afflict us.  It will be like a huge Sunday nap, except for the fact that we won't be just sitting around, we'll be living with things to do.
When we get to that part of our eternal lives, we won't have the opportunity to be refined like we are right now.  This experience to pass through these trials on earth will be finished.  I don't want to go into personal opinion, or accidentally say something false.  But obviously, the present moment of where we are, and who we are won't be the same as right now.  This is our time to be really polished and refined so that we can be those magnificent beings we are destined to be after this life!
It's not easy, and it wasn't meant to be.  But there is no where in the scriptures where it says that it is not possible.  Rather, the scriptures tell us that the seemingly impossible is possible! 
So maybe we will come out of tough stuff with our tails tucked between our legs and little roughed up and worn out, but we will still come out of that tough stuff none the less.  Eventually we will see how it was all worth it, and the fact is that we can't see it now.
My heart just goes out to everyone at home that is having a hard time right now.  We really need to stick together, we need each other to weather the storms that will most definitely be sent to us.  And when the person comes to help, I hope that we don't just close our eyes and ears and ignore the life line they provide.  It makes me sad when people do that.
I love you all at home more than you know!  I pray for you and I am excited for us to be reunited some time!  But I am also grateful for my mission.  I am a little nervous for whatever lay ahead in this next year, but as long as I don't forget to pray, I know I can handle it.
I love you!  Keep being so wonderful!
Love,
Sister Henry
Train ride to Munich
Zone leaders on the train ride
German deliciousness
Such a cute German bottle!  And alkoholfrei of course
Exchanges

Mission Leadership Conference
MLC
MLC group photo (the mission has almost 300 missionaries, so there are 32 Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders.
Delicious food at MLC!