A large piece of my heart will always be in Singen, Germany!

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I love Sister Lee! I can’t wait to see her again!

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Elder and Sister Lee are angels! They are truly amazing servants of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Grüezi Zusammen!

This week brought a lot of change for me! It is always hard to say
goodbye. That is probably my least favorite thing to do! Still, it is
good to know that I served with my whole heart in Singen and that I
have made connections there that I will never forget. I love Singen
and a large piece of my heart will always be there! It is my home 🙂

Graz is a beautiful city surrounded by loads of nature. I am
superexcited to be here and to get used to this city life once again!
(funny how things chage, right?)

The ward is massive for Austria-German area. There were like over 100
members there on Sunday and that is normal. Coming from a branch where
at most we had around 90 show up, but usually closer to 60 or less,
that was a big change. I introduced myself and everyone was lovely.
The ward likes to have missionaries over quite a bit and this
Saturday, the 4th, we are invited to grill and garden with a family.
That should be loads of fun! 😀

The work here is going well. We have a few people to teach and meet
people often. I am very excited to see what the next while here
brings.

I am working with Sister Gardner from Lindon, Utah. She is a very nice
girl and great missionary. She is now in her 3rd transfer. I am now in
my 9th (HOW did that happen again?).

Today we will visit a castle (oh, you know the normal European
routine) and next week hopefully I will be able to load up some
photos.

We have been able to use our iPads in teaching already, though the
content is mostly only in English and most people here speak German,
and they have proved a good tool for teaching and for studying.

This week simply reminds me how exciting new beginnings can be! We
have a brand new Ward Mission Leader who is in his early twenties and
newly married, me and one other elder are new and the other two
missionaries are at the very start of their missions, so we are all on
the idea of a fresh start. We hope that means we can really get things
going here in Graz. I intend to make us missionaries as much of a
family here as I felt we were in Singen.

I am excited to take what I have learned and apply it further!! I
really know what we do makes a difference, even if it is just one drop
at a time. I have seen miracles already here in Graz and I know the
Lord watches over each and ever one of His
children!

Sei Glücklich! Wir können alles mit Gottes Hilfe tun.

“We can alter the face of the earth one family and one home at a time
through charity, our small and simple acts of pure love.”— Anne C.
Pingree

LG,

Sister Smith

Leaving Singen, headed to Austria!

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Stein am Rhein and a castle in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland.

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Stein am Rhein and a castle in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland. Where the Rhein begins

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Sister Lee, Sister Priest and sister Smith.  Where the Rhein begins Stein Am Rhein

Sister Lee, Sister Priest and sister Smith. Where the Rhein begins
Stein Am Rhein

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Hallo Zusammen! Schon wieder!

It is just crazy how the time flies. I can’t beleive I have spent a whopping 6 months is singen and about a year in Germany at this point.

That ends this week as I am going to Graz, Austria. It is a beautiful place, clear on the opposite end of the mission. It is on the border of Slovakia and Hungary. I will be working with Sister Gardner in her third transfer.

I love Singen and will always love it, but I knew I’d have to go soon. No one wants me to leave here, except the Lord and His opinion is the one that matters! So I’m sure I will love Graz and serve well there.

Enough about me!

This week we met with out lovely recent converts, Christiana, Beauty, Mathew and Constanze as well as two less active families and our lovely Nancy, who is trying to get her marriage liscence for Germany and Ike, a guy who used to investigate, lost interest and then came up to us this week as we were teaching Christiana and said, ”Okay! when are you people going to teach me the word of God?”

Christiana started dancing and singing she was so happy that ”Uncle Ike” wanted to take the lessons of the gospel from us! haha so we started talking to him and he is really serious about getting his life in order and finding room for God! It is super cool.

The coolest thing about this mission are the people. Each and every one of them has a crazy, hard life and their stories are the most incredible things ever.

An Elder in our ward told me about a Priesthood meeting where the topic was hardships. They asked who had experienced real hunger, not an ”Oh! I am hungry!’ feeling, but real I don’t have food because of war or poverty hunger. Everyone except for the elders and one or two brothers raised their hands.

They then asked a pair of brothers what the hardest night they had was. The one brother looks at the other and goes ”I think it was the night they tried to take Mom, right?” the other shrugs and says ”probably.” They lived in a northern part of Germany being attacked by Russia. Russian mobs would come in and take all of the people’s belongings, ransack homes, hurt innocent people and gang rape women.

One night the Russians came to their house and grabbed their mother. Before they go out the house, the terrified screams of the two young boys stopped these men because they said she was too loud and they would just go next door and find another woman.

Another talked about the death camp for political figures he slaved in back in Sierra Leon.

Christiana is among these. She told us her full story this week. It made me respect and love her even more than I already did!

She was in her twenties selling fish on the coast of Nigeria. The place where she lived was one of sort of ”three groups” of people in Nigeria. Half of these people are Muslim and half are christian. Almost all are illiterate, especially the older women and can’t read at all or write or really tell what words are at all.

One older woman sold fried african food on the shore. In order to sell the food, she had to buy a big supply of paper to dish the food on. The seller decided to sell her pages of the holy Muslim book, the Quaran, for her to sell her food on. Unknowingly, she bought and used these holy pages.

One day a very stout and strong Muslim came and bought some of her food only to realise that the food was defiling the pages of what he saw as holy scripture. He attempted to kill the woman and burned her stand down. He could not find her, so instead he and his gang of muslims turned it into a war against all the christians. Christiana was numbered among them and forced to flee for her life. Thousands of people are fleeing and she has only one option: take the truck. There are two trucks
1. the Marlboro Truck which is only available to the rich for something like 500 dollars, which no one in Nigeria has oustide of the very rich

2. the other trucks, which cram over 200 people in like Sardines, limit the amount of water you can take to survive and travel for moths through the African desert up to Libya. Costs around 50 dollars.

She really could only take the second option, not having enough money to travel safely. She said the drivers were nearly inhuman. They would not stop except for in dangerous villages on the way to ensure that they did not travel alone. If the truck was alone and it stalled, he and all the passengers would surely die.

With crazy sand and dust storms covering them all from head to foot, extreme heat and starvation, people were dying left and right around Christiana. She said people would just be sobbing and asking the driver what to do. He would say to throw them off the side and get over it.

Christiana survives and makes it into Libya, at a time of peace there. She said life was good at first. She met friends, had her daughter, Miracle, and she got by. She worked.

Still, life was not the way you or I might see it. She wore full coverage, head to toe if she wanted to walk outside and not be stoned. She could also not eat in public because when you eat in public these thieves come and take the food right out of your mouth or hand as it is about to go into your mouth. She also said that by the actions and behaviors of those people she did not know if they were human.

After a few years of peace, a conflict started. A few of her friends went back to Nigeria to avoid a potential war there. Christiana, though was convinced that the war would never come. It did come and Christiana described the time with experiences like,

”You are talking to somebody and you go and you do not know if that person will live to see you again. They will probably die by bomb.”

Bombs and gore raged all around. She would see terrorists and poverty everywhere, but somehow survived. Her boyfriend become good friends with a hig-ranked good man and he helped them a lot.

One night, their luck came close to running out. A bomb destroyed half of their house and sprayed the one-year-old Miracle. She rushed Miracle to the hospital, but the doctors were turning the people away. Christiana said she saw numberless people with missing limbs just wailing outside waiting for some doctor or death. She said, one is missing an arm here another a leg there. Still, because Miracle was so small, a doctor cleaned and tended to her wounds then asked them to get out.

Everyone was trying to escape, but most people outside, if seen, were immediately killed. So, this good man snuck them out in the dead of night to a port. The port has small boats, again people are stuck together like Sardines, that take people from Africa to Italy. Most people die in transit as the boats are small, Life jackets are largely no option except for the really rich, and the seas are not calm. Her group got onto a boat and started sailing. The boat was rocking violently, but they did not get very far because a few women were driven to insanity and said they were witches and wanted to get into the ocean. Because of their insanity, the driver tuned around and refused to take them all across.

Christiana and Miracle and Blessing was there too and Miracles father all got luckily onto a nicer boat, just by chance. The boat even loaned Miracle a free Life Jacket. They got across the seas, which normally takes up to 3 weeks, in 17 hours.

They survived! Christiana, though, gets to Italy shaking of fear. As a refugee, she does not know if they will accept her or force her to get back to the war zone.

She ends up making it and lives in a tiny camp with many others then gets here and we knock on her door about 2 months later and now she is baptised, safe, and livign in her own room in Germany!

She is still one of the happiest, liveliest, and most kind people I know.

I cannot imagine going through that, but I am extremely grateful that what Jesus Christ did helps her, too. It helps us all.

You never know what you neighbor has been through. It is so important to keep on smiling, loving and giving God our best.

This makes us happy, gives us peace no matter what our past, present or future look like.

Have a great week,

Sister Smith

June in Singen and Switzerland! Summer has arrived!

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Swiss Money

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swiss money

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Konstanz is a border town of Germany and Switzerland. Lake Konstanz is so beautiful!

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Konstanz is a beautiful town!

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I have been thinking a bit lately what it really means to leave the world behind in the service of God. It seems impossible.

This world throws ads and music and stars and work and money in our faces. We need the stability that comes from being a part of the world.

Even as a missionary, I feel bombarded by things like this. I can see the stress it causes and as a bystander of sorts, I feel grateful that I have this gospel so that I know where to turn for peace in such a chaotic world.

The song in our songbook, ”Considere the Lilleis of the Field” often comes to mind. I have this super cool opportunity right now, where I am as cut off from the world at large as it gets while still being a functioning part of society. I don’t listen to popular music, watch television, know anything about the news, have a computer, access social media (okay, that might change in a few weeks, but for now at least) or see any popular culture type things.

At first, separating ourselves from such cool, fun and at times useful things seems incredibly difficult. It is really a blessing. The world is suddenly a lot quieter. My goal is clear and my focus on the needs of others is increased. In this extreme environment I have really learned where I need to turn for peace and I have found this peace, the peace of God, in incredible ways.

I am preparing myself so that I might always be ready to drop the world at any moments’ notice in the service of God or others (it is the same). In doing so, I have never been happier! I know that as I plan my life so that I am not of the world, but just a light in it, that I can keep this happiness and it will only grow.

One example of that, outside of myself, this week was in one of the new members to our congregation. She was having a rough, rough week. She had so many things go wrong and then had an argument with a loved one. It got really intense and as he left, we showed up to a heated scene. She was crying and her friends were telling her to do millions of things about it, very loudly.

After a time, we were able to get her friend and her asidefrom the group, pray and just read in the Book of Mormon. Just as I knew it would, after about a year of experience, the lesson in the book applied directly to her and it really was able to fill her with peace. The tears left and were replaced with a warm glow.

She was so thankful for the gospel! There truly is an opposite in all things. We do go through hardships to become stronger so that we might more fully experience joy.

Otherwise, we just kept on working with Beauty and Christiana and Mathew and Eric and we met a new friend, Patience, who loves to hear from us. 🙂

Singen is such a special place. Somewhere between the Africans and the Germans and the other Americans I have built some truly meaningful relationships and have really seen how this makeshift family will pull together to help one another at all times. As followers of Christ, we show love at all times in the face of all things. I need a lot of work on that, but I have seen some amazing examples of that here!

I am just so grateful for this experience. What a cool life I get to live out here on the German-Swiss border!

Have a great week and remember to keep smiling!

Love,

Sister Smith

What a Week! 6/8/2015

New Haircut!!!!!!!

New Haircut!!!!!!!

Matthew fed us and the Elders (He's a new convert)

Matthew fed us and the Elders (He’s a new convert)

Matthew made us a Nigerian meal.  We eat with our hands and then they give us a bucket of water to wash with.  yams stuffed with meat and fish.  Maybe I am turning African but I love it!

Matthew made us a Nigerian meal. We eat with our hands and then they give us a bucket of water to wash with. yams stuffed with meat and fish. Maybe I am turning African but I love it!

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beautiful

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so blessed to be in such a beautiful part of the world!

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Nigerian Food made by Matthew (recent Convert)

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Yum!

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Such a beautiful Spring Day in a Beautiful place!

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Bern, Switzerland LDS Temple

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The Lees are amazing!  They took us to the temple this week.  Elder and Sister Lee are the best people EVER!

The Lees are amazing! They took us to the temple this week. Elder and Sister Lee are the best people EVER!

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Bern, Switzerland Temple

Bern, Switzerland Temple

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Sister Smith and Sister Priest at the Bern, Switzerland temple

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The Beautiful Bern Temple in Switzerland!  Such an amazingly beautiful place!

The Beautiful Bern Temple in Switzerland! Such an amazingly beautiful place!

What a week!!

This week we traveled to Bern, Switzerland to visit a member who used to live in Singen and the TEMPLE!! It was gorgeous! I love to go there. For those who are unfamiliar, it is a super special, holy place where people who have worked hard to prepare themsleves spiritually go to make promises with God and learn more and meditate and really just draw cloer to our Father in Heaven! If you have one near you, you can tell that it just adds light to the whole neighborhood.

I learned so much this time going through and I am so grateful to be on the ”frontlines” of this earthly battle against Satan. We are so blessed to be out here and have the ability to share the gospel and the peace that Christ brings with these people. I have seen it really, truly change souls, not just earthly lives, but eternal lives! There is a light we get as we draw closer to Christ and I know the gospel is the best way to do so.

It was mega hot this week, but we enjoyed getting some real funky tanlines. We also got to visit Mathew, a recent convert who is from Nigeria. He cooked us yams with a pepper sauce with fish and meat in it. Maybe I am just turning African, but it was actually really good. You eat it with your hands! Everything, always. At the end, they give you a bucket of water to wash off in. LOL I added pictures of the meal to my dropbox!

Nancy came back from traveling and called upon us to be her translators for an appointment at a government office so that she could get an okay to be married to her fiance in Germany. She has no other place to live than with her fiance normally and they are both living the Law of Chastity, or saving themselves for marriage, but it is a huge process to get an ok to be married over here. After she is married, and no longer living with her fiance outside of marriage she also can be baptised.

It is difficult because in Nigeria, they do not keep documents of anything and Germany is one the closest record keeping, organized places around. Nigerians are born in homes in villages and have no addresses and Germany wants a certificate, address and phone number from the hospital in which she was born. Most of the time, they do not even know how old their spouse is when getting married.

Anyways, we called our incredible Ward Mission Leader and he took time on his day off to rescue us all and we made some huge progress and it is looking like she might be able to get it in the next few months… for about 2000 Euro.

Anyways, I am so glad we helped her figure it out. Usually, she says she just goes and cries and says the one line she knows ”Mein Man” lol. So now she knows what is going on, what is missing and how she can get the papers. It is a total miracle that we got to go with her!

Another one of the people we work with this week started drifting away from the truth and hanging out with some shady characters. We were super worried about her, as we can see she is not as happy as she shold be, and tried to work closely with her. Last night, as we were sincerely praying about it and how she is, both my companion and I got an overwhelmingly dark feeling. It was indescribeable, but I’ll try anyways.

I could just feel that Satan is real and the kind of power that he has over certain people in this world. I could feel what it might feel like to face him and see his side and to be under his control. It was the scariest thing ever and I am so grateful that I choose God. I choose the light and I am so grateful that I have help and loved ones who are so great! I can promise you that the only true peace and joy in this world lies with God.

Satan is real and he is powerful, but the path he paves and makes look so enticing is really miserable. As we make good decisions and trust in God, I know we will be happy!

I’ll get off my soapbox to say that I love you all and hope you have a fabulous week!!

oh, p.s. I cut my hair super short! 😀

Love,

Sister Smith

Singen is a place of Miracles!

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Meine Liebe Geschwistern Gottes,

This week we had a lot of cool experiences!

Eric is making super good progress! He wants to be baptised on the 20 of June and Benji really wants him to do it in a river or see. LOL Eric is really ready, though and he has some awesome insights. Last week when we met with him, he asked us a question about a verse in the Bible. His translation has pieces missing that were restored through revelation and the prophet Jospeh Smith in Joseph Smith Translation. When he asked, we read him the restored verse and he felt the spirit so strongly. He said he had felt and heard something tell him it wasn’t complete and then asked us. He trusted us and felt the comformation from God that what we are saying is right.

Later in the week we met with him and explained God’s plan of happiness to him. We explained why sometimes innocent or good people’s lives are cut short, because God has a huge plan and there is so much more than just our time on earth. God knows and watches over each of us individually and I know that if we die early there is a reason for it beyond the viel of this life. God would not suffer that anything not of our own chosing would deterr us from returning to Him. This is why He gave us Christ and why He never leaves us alone. I explained that to him and he really paused, and said that he knew it was true. Each time we meet, we have great spiritual experiences and learn loads together!

We also got to see Christiana and her friend, Blessing. Christiana is so funny. Here is something she told us this week: Our doctor’s appointment is at 4, so we need to leave at 440 to get there. Sister Preist and I looked at each other and laughed then explained to her why that doesn’t work. She was laughing and they left at about 345. Still late, but hey at least they were on their way before it started! She is too funny. She is also an AMAZING missionary. She invites everyone she knows and loves to church and to our lessons. Because of this we have full lessons narly every time we meet there. Almost everyone who lives in the complex is investigating the church.

Beauty Sunday is also doing quite fine! We visited her on Sunday afternoon and she was grinding a pepper with a machine. The pepper was so spicy that the fumes from it were making her caugh violently. As I walked in there, Sister Priest and I immediately started caughing and crying from the fumes. Nigerians love their peppers. They are just so lively and fun, they’ve got to eat the same way. Wooh!

Other than that, we had a street display on Saturday in the adorbale town of Überlingen. Benjamin lives there, so he came dressed up. He used to be a real street performer and he is still just as lively, crazy and fun as he was then. This little English guy, Benji, comes to the display in a pink tunic, shin guard type metal shield things tied around his legs, makeup to lookl like a roman soldier, and a breast plate and two swords. He is not wearing pants, just short swim trunks under the tunic OH, and a helmet. So keep that image, then he’s got a mouthpiece that makes him sound like a robot and he stands on a stool and does the robot while handing out books, cards, baloons with the website on it and pamphlets that teach about our church. It was SO COOL! It got a lot of attention and everyone seemed to have fun and got a good impression of us because of it.

I am so lucky to serve in the best place ever and with some really cool people!

Oh, the adventures of missionary life!

Love you all!

Sister Smith