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Monday, March 31, 2014

Mission calls, caterpillars butterflies hellfire and repentance

Arriving at MLC with the Salzburg Zone Leaders
Sherry had little time today so she just sent me a quick note and then sent this talk she gave this week.  I'm attaching a few photos from Mission Leadership Conference via Sister Miles. Oh, and yes she bought the red lederhosen last week! =) 
Mission Leadership Conference group

MLC enjoying breakfast
MLC enjoying Hawaiian Haystacks for lunch!
I AM SOOOOO EXCITED FOR SPENCE!!!!  (Spencer received his mission call this week and was assigned to the Costa Rica San Jose Mission, reporting July 9th, two days after his 18th birthday!)
Yes I got Elder Root's letter and I loved it!
No time for photos this week.

This week one of the Elder's Investigators was baptized (first baptism she has seen on her mission!) and I had the privilege of giving a talk at her baptism!  I thought I'd share it with you for my email home this week.
There once was a caterpillar who lived in a beautiful garden.  He loved his life, his friends, his experiences in the garden.  Spring turned into summer as he cherished every splendid moment there.  Soon the summer melted into autumn and the caterpillar knew he had to build himself a cocoon and spend the winter months tucked safely away in his deep sleep.

As the last of the snow melted, the caterpillar emerged from his cocoon different than before.  He had changed.  He had become a beautiful butterfly.

But this butterfly, too afraid of what may lay ahead of his comfortable garden, never flew.  He spent his days inching around like the caterpillar he once was, never to know the splendid beauties and adventures awaiting him.

In the Book of Mormon we learn that the natural man is an enemy to God.  This scripture teaches us that the definition of a "natural man" is someone who chooses contrary to God's will.  The natural man is a sinner.

I think the word "sin" has a bad reputation.  When I think of sin, sometimes I associate it with hell-fire, torture, sometimes the word damnation comes to mind...

If we don't understand the true notion of sin, then it is very difficult to grasp what repentance and forgiveness really are.

Sin is making a choice contrary to the will of God, and knowing we are doing so.  We find the will of God taught to us in many places.  We know his will through the commandments, counsel of prophets both ancient and modern, and inspiration we receive through the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  When we choose contrary to this knowledge, we sin.

Just as a new mother knows raising her child won't be 100% picture perfect, our Father in Heaven knew we wouldn't be perfect obedient Spirit children on this earth either.  

In face in the before-mentioned scripture we learn that not only is the natural man an enemy to God, but he has been since the time of Adam and "will be forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord."

President Packer taught, "It was understood from the beginning that in mortality we would fall short of being perfect.  It was not expected that we would live without transgressing one law or another...A mediator, a Redeemer, was chosen, one who would live His life perfectly, commit no sin, and offer 'himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirits and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.' "

A lot of times, we, like the caterpillar I spoke of earlier, don't comprehend that in actuality we are a butterfly.  The price is paid, the deed is done, the Savior atoned for your sins.

But just as a butterfly won't attempt to fly if she lives as a caterpillar, we can not live our potential if we don't repent.  Though the price was paid and the change was made, we will not utilize that change if we don't repent.

Just as a butterfly must remain in constant motion to fly, we must continue in repentance throughout our lives.  What an exciting gift of promise we have to continue in repentance being who we were destined to become.  How comforting it is to know that the fresh start at baptism does not only happen at baptism, but can be felt weekly as we partake of the sacrament, and daily as we pray to our Father in Heaven.

Never be afraid to repent, as repentance is not a punishment but an opportunity.

Other than the baptism, there's not much to talk about.  Things are moving forward and we are seeing miracles.  This really is the work of God and I am so grateful to be a part of it!

I love all of you at home so much!  My greatest desire for all of you is to enjoy the sweet blessings that turning around and repenting brings.  It's never too late and it's never too great!

Sending you love from Italy & Austria,
Sister Henry

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bridles, Bleeding, and Blessings.

I look back on some of the things that happened this week and think, woah!  That was only this week?  Let's just say there were a lot of adventures that went down.
To start, we went back to Italy!  Ah, gotta love Brixen.  The Sisters down there decided to set up for us the Tausch of all Tausches (Exchange of all Exchanges--trading companions for a couple days).  We ended up helping with a service project.  They didn't tell us much except that we had to do a service project in the mountains.  We got there, hopped on a bus that took us up, and show up to a stable!  Yes family, I helped fix up a villa and groom horses in the Italian Alps.  The weather was beautiful, and I almost thought I heard Disney music playing in the background, I felt like I was in a fairytale. 

It was also a blast working with Sister Kervinen.  Let's just say, she is probably one of the most fun Sister Missionaries I have ever met.  Man, that was so fun!

Elder Stilger working hard!

Elder Halversen and Sister Clark with the Alps!

It was also a blast working with Sister Kervinen.  Let's just say, she is probably one of the most fun Sister Missionaries I have ever met.  Man, that was so fun!
We also had a day of days this week.  It was just a day you wake up and you can feel everything is going to go wrong.  We had an eating appointment with the Elders at a members house.  We left and realized not only did we not have a map of Salzburg, but we had forgotten the ward list to look up her address too!  So we shot a text to the Elders to find out where she lives.  We get off the S-bahn and Sister Clark goes, "I don't have the phone."  We realize she had accidentally left it on the train!  So then we are phoneless and don't know where to go!  We end up going to the church, finding the address, looking it up on Google maps, and the appointment went fine.  We used the Elders phone and found out ours was with a lady in Neumarkt.  So that was a blessing, because then Elder Naegle was able to pick it up for us. 
Later that day on the Bus Sister Clark's nose just starts bleeding.  Not just a little nose bleed, it was coming out.  She asked if I had tissues and I realized neither of us did.  So then I go up and ask a stranger, who kindly gives us some, and the busdriver sees what's going on.  He stops the whole bus so that he can get a towel wet for her to clean herself up!  A super nice guy, but let me tell ya, Sister Clark's cheeks were almost as red as the blood coming out of her nose.  Tehe, she will kill me for saying that.

Poor Sister  Clark took a spill (I made sure she was fine before taking this!-Sis H)
We go on later in the day, and we're on the way to a less active when we realize we are on the wrong bus!  We still don't have a phone, can't call the Less Active, but then we realize that the member with us can call!  We call to get the number but her cell phone number isn't on the ward list!  We just happen to have it on our, you guessed it, cell phone!  The Elders look it up on our cell phone, give it to us, we call the Less Active, and she ends up not even being home.  So it all worked out in the end, but after the fiasco of the day, we were happy to get our phone back (Neumarkt Elders drove down and gave it to us) and go home.
It was really fun, though.  At first we were getting frustrated because the day was going so bad, but after a while, all we could do was laugh.  So we did laugh!.  Two wrongs may not make a right, but a bunch of bad luck can make some really happy sisters!
Former home of Benito Mussolini
This home is now owned by the "sweetest, most humble, coolest family of investigators"

Elder Halversen photobomb

The Elders acting out a fairy tale?
I also had an experience this week that just really taught me how much our Heavenly Father loves us.  I watched one of His children take a step towards coming back to him.  As I watched her choose for herself to do this, I just felt this overwhelming love, and happiness.  It was like my heart swelled up inside of me and was going to burst through my chest!  I almost couldn't sit still I was so happy!  Wow, even when I think back to it right now, I feel so overwhelmingly happy.
I have felt this a few times on my mission, and I realized that it is a special gift a missionary has.  God lets us feel a piece of His love for His children.  He loves us so much, and when we choose to follow Him, He is happier than we can comprehend.  Truly He is!  When we choose to come closer to Him, he is rejoicing more exceedingly than I can express!  I have felt it, and I am so grateful I have.  It changes our perspective to help others come closer to Him and find Him, when we know how much he loves them and wants them to come back.
I really know that's true, I have witnessed it and experienced it for myself.  His love is infinite and perfect.  He loves us so much.  We our his kids!  He is so proud of us, and so grateful to be our Dad.  I know He is.  I know He loves us!
I love you, and I hope you have a terrific week.
Sister H.
I couldn't believe how great this photo of the moon turned out!

Skirt made by Aunt Heather!

PS I sent her back to purchase these today!

Monday, March 17, 2014

I drive through the tunnel and what do I see....

A nice big castle waiting for me!

    This week was a crazy one, as we had Zone Training on Tuesday and then ended up doing back to back Tausches (Exchanges).  So I said goodbye to Sister Clark on Tuesday, we had 10 minutes together on Thursday, and didn't see each other again until Saturday morning.  On Saturday we finally went to contact a referral that we've had for over a month now.  Usually when you have a referral you really are supposed to contact it within 24 hours.  Why did it take us so long?
On exchanges in Linz Austria

Possibly because it was 3 hours with train and a 5 mile walk afterwards to contact it.

 The family lives in a little dorf called Zankwarm way down in the bottom corner of our mission, right next to the Klagenfurt ward boundaries.  Let me tell ya, I know why Elder Root raved about how beautiful the train ride down there is.  It was a breathtaking ride.  The Smiths ended up taking us with their car, and that cut it down to just an hour and a half.  Much more manageable.  Yes, it takes over an hour and a half to get to not even the farthest corner of our ward boundaries.

There was a point when we were driving through, I swear, the worlds longest tunnel when we came out.  I look to the right and cry, "Castle!"  Let me tell ya, I never thought that would be a regular occurrence a couple of years ago.  We pull over to the side of the road, took some pictures, got back in the car and kept along our trek.

 It happened a couple of times where we just had to pull over and take pictures.
  It was beautiful!  There was one point where we drove straight through a huge ski resort.  Literally, the ski lifts went over the autobahn!

 We ended up contacting the referral, which had looked really promising, and they let us know they actually were not interested.  We then went by on some Less Actives that live in the outskirts and they either still wanted no contact, or weren't home.
    This sort of describes our week.  I think it may be the first week of my mission where we didn't teach a single lesson to an investigator.  Well, on tausch we taught lessons, but our area didn't teach a lesson.
    Man! It was so hard not to be discouraged.  I won't say I handled it the best.  You try so hard, you talk with as many people as you can, you call and call to set up appointments, and they end up falling out, no one has time, they're  not interested, etc.  On one hand you know all of these things are out of your control.  On the other hand, you are responsible for this area and these people, and you take it on your shoulders, the work that goes on in the area that is.
     I was really sad.
That was Saturday evening, and church on Sunday helped a lot.  I just recharged, refreshed, and ready to keep moving forward.  But I think that this morning really tipped me back onto the positive side of things this morning.  I was reading an awesome talk by M. Russell Ballard called be anxiously engaged.  In the beginning he talks about honey bees and how a hive of 20,000 to 60,000 bees has to get pollen from millions of flowers to produce just one pound of honey.  He then said that a single honey bee in its entire lifetime will only produce about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey.  1/12 of a teaspoon!  In  its entire lifetime!  Which goes about up to 4 months.
      If you took one little honey bee and saw the work it did, you would think it's pretty useless.  1/12 of a teaspoon is hardly enough to taste anything at all.  You probably would just get rid of that little honey bee, you'd find it not to be of much worth.
    But if none of the honeybees did their 1/12, there would be no honey!  None at all!  And let me tell you, we are the honey bees.  Gosh, we can work as hard as we can every single day.  To make that 1/12 of a teaspoon, the honey bee has to be diligent and anxiously engaged every single day of its life.  In the end, yeah, maybe we will only make that 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey, but goodness that is our 1/12 of a teaspoon to give!
     Maybe working hard every single day out here won't seem like much to some eyes.  Even sometimes my own eyes, when I let them look at it negatively.  But I am just one little honey bee in a huge hive of not just 80,000 or so other missionaries, but millions of us who are anxiously engaging ourselves in this work.  So gosh dangit, I am going to make the best 1/12 of a teaspoon you ever tasted!
      It reminded me of the parable in Jacob 5 and how we are servants in the Lord's vineyard.  There is a reason we are called the servants in the vineyard and not the Lord in the vineyard.  The Lord knows what he's doing.  He knows what trees need pruned, how they need pruned, which should be grafted where, all of the how's.  The servant isn't expected to know those things.
     The servant is simply expected to follow the Lord's instructions.  The servant shows up to work with ready hands and an open heart.  Maybe the servant isn't the smartest, the boldest, the most powerful in the vineyard.  But to the Lord of the vineyard it doesn't matter how great you are or how talented you are; what matters to him is that you show up to work and you do the work!
     It just really helped me to refocus my perspective.  This isn't my work, this isn't the Church's work, this is God's work.  I just forget sometimes.
     Oh, also this week.  When we took off on our adventure, I had realized that I had left my overnight bag on the train.  By then, the train had already continued on to Villach.  I quickly called the ÖBB lost and found people, only to find that the Salzburg branch was closed on Saturdays.  I had to think fast.  I found out that Villach was in the Klagenfurt elders area so I called up Elder Janis and asked if him or the other elders would be in Villach around the time the train got there.  He said no, but then let me know there was a member that lived over there.  The member was Bruder Mauch, a member of the high council.  He called me up and let me know that he went to get it, but there were too many people and he wasn't able to locate it BUT that the train was heading back to Salzburg.
    I was in the middle of the Alps and wouldn't be back in Salzburg in time so I called the Zone leaders and they said they'd be able to pick it up for me.  They show up at Bahnhof and Bruder Mauch had called the other elders in Salzburg so all 4 showed up to rescue my bag.  After some awkward miscommunication between me and the train guy on the phone, the elders were able to recover the bag.
    The best part is the next day Bruder Mauch taught the primary theme.  So after church yesterday I had primary kid after primary kid telling me they knew about me forgetting my bag.  They thought they were just so funny!
    But it really was nice how everyone came to help me, even though it wasn't anything that important.  Everything within the bag was stuff I could simply replace, it wasn't a journal or pictures or anything.  But when I tried to say it wasn't that important everyone else would say, "No!  That is important, we'll help you out."  I felt so touched and so taken care of by everyone joining in to help me get my bag.
   Yep, that's the big news for the week!  The sun is out, the birds are singing, I saw two beetles mating, spring is definitely in the air here in Salzburg!  I want you all to know how much I love my mission.  I am at the best time where it's been so long since I've been home, I feel like that's a dream, I have so much ahead that I can't comprehend a future, and so I am totally engulfed in this nice, happy, missionary bubble.  This work is good, let me tell ya!
    I love you all so much!
Sister Henry
PS The whole family should watch the Sound  of Music because I have been almost every single place they filmed it!
Here is Sis Henry's favorite part of the streetcar ride in Salzburg (your reward for reading ALL the way to here!)