fabulous Summer Week in Graz!

We’ve had another fabulous summer week here in Graz, Austria. Although the area here is extremely beautiful, especially since we got to venture out of the city a bit is week to the countryside, it is really the people who make our work so special. No other time does one get to know people so well, help them with some of their most intimate problems, and really get to know all the cultures in a land like on a mission.

Because we are servants of the Lord no we have a special authority to bring the people His word and peace, I find that people let us in their lives more than some of heir friends or family even. It is a super humbling but amazing experience to have something to offer each and every one of these vastly different people that can genuinely lift up their lives. That thing is Christ.

Just like in the following scripture, we help the, find the source of relief! It is something truly amazing and it just hit me this week, so I thought !i’d share that! Scripture: 2 Nephi 25: 26 “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”

In order to get to one of our visits his week, we had to walk quite a ways. Normally, we are extremely spoiled here in Europe by the extensive public transit and although we walk a lot still, the buses and trains can get us most anywhere.

For this member, however, we needed to walk about 30 minutes after the train ride. We walked through dirt paths next to a little brook in the middle of a forest area, over a bridge crossing the Mur river, and through a few tiny neighborhoods. It was a very cool trip, but I wondered at times if it would be worth it, hiking through the beauty to get to her.

Of course it was, no matter how long it took. She is 92, lives with a caretaker and gets visits from her family now and again. We got there and she was so excited to see us. She had planned that her caretaker makeup all lunch and wanted to do a puzzle with us for a short time while we talked with her and was so sweet, despite being in pain due to her physical ailments.

As we were talking, she told us how she found he church. Missionaries came to her small, out of the way town when she was younger and they gave her a Book of Mormon but she said she wasn’t interested and wasn’t sure if God even existed. They left, but time went on and she began to wonder. One night a bad storm came her way. There was a lot of rain and lightning and thunder. She had read a little bit of this book the missionaries gave her and had a genuine desire to know if God was there. She prayed and asked God to show himself, by striking her house ( in which her whole family was besides her) with lightning. Sure enough,vine house was struck! No one inside was hurt, but this girl never forgot that answer an decided after that to change her life.

Shortly after that, world war 2 broke out and she lived through that as a teenager. She didn’t tell us too much about life in that time, but it was clearly very difficult for her to think on. Despite these major challenges, she never let go of her faith. Over time, she lost her husband and many of her children decided to lead lives contrary to the truths she had raised them to believe. This was a strain in her, but instead of growing bitter she decided to use this as an opportunity to love more, give more and be stronger. It reminded me of a talk from 1973 I had read spoken by Thomas S Monson. He speaks of a widow he visited and who died! Leaving him her beloved bird.

“In the kitchen are my three precious canaries. Two of them are beautiful, yellow-gold in color, and are perfectly marked. On their cages I have noted the names of friends to whom they are to be given. In the third cage is ‘Billie.’ He is my favorite. Billie looks a bit scrubby, and his yellow hue is marred by gray on his wings. Will you and your family make a home for him? He isn’t the prettiest, but his song is the best.”

In the days that followed, I learned much more about Kathleen McKee. She had befriended many neighbors in need. She had given cheer and comfort almost daily to a cripple who lived down the street. Indeed, she had brightened each life she touched. Kathleen McKee was much like “Billie,” her prized yellow canary with gray on its wings. She was not blessed with beauty, gifted with poise, nor honored by posterity. Yet her song helped others to more willingly bear their burdens and more ably shoulder their tasks. She lived the message of the verse:

“Go, gladden the lonely, the dreary;

Go, comfort the weeping, the weary;

Go, scatter kind deeds on your way;

Oh, make the world brighter today!”

People like this are what make missions so special. It is so humbling to be around someone like this and then see them turn to the two of you, young girls that we are, for guidance and spiritual thoughts or for service. Luckily we all, like he scripture can turn to Christ together who has been through all of everyone’s trials.

We also got to talk to a lot of people this week. We had a few cool experiences. One Romanian woman had met a few elders from our mission who current,y serve in Switzerland just a few weeks prior. One of them was Elder Rozan, who I knew. That was so weird to hear her describing them, these elders in our same mission doing the same thing on the total opposite side of the mission but we met the woman they talked to. She did really like them, though and she said she’d really look into our message more now because clearly these things don’t just happen!

One man stopped us and asked what we did. We described our work and the Book of Mormon. He lit up and said he was super interested to hear more. He took the book and was just very excited to learn about the way God speaks to us still today and how He has always loved all His children, in every land.

Other than that, it was a great week to serve the Lord. Every day is a blessing!

Have a great week! Bis zum nächstem Mal!

LG,

Sister Smith

P.s.
This favorite song of mine goes with the thoughts I had today it’s super cute!

“Give,” Said the Little Stream

1. “Give,” said the little stream,

“Give, oh! give, give, oh! give.”

“Give,” said the little stream,

As it hurried down the hill;

“I’m small, I know, but wherever I go

The fields grow greener still. ”

Singing, singing all the day,

“Give away, oh! give away.”

Singing, singing all the day,

“Give, oh! give away.”

2. “Give,” said the little rain,

“Give, oh! give, give, oh! give.”

“Give,” said the little rain,

As it fell upon the flow’rs;

“I’ll raise their drooping heads again,”

As it fell upon the flow’rs.

Singing, singing all the day,

“Give away, oh! give away.”

Singing, singing all the day,

“Give, oh! give away.”

3. Give, then, as Jesus gives,

Give, oh! give, give, oh! give.

Give, then, as Jesus gives;

There is something all can give.

Do as the streams and blossoms do:

For God and others live.

Singing, singing all the day,

“Give away, oh! give away.”

Singing, singing all the day,

“Give, oh! give away.”

Another GREAT week in Graz!

Liebe Kinder Gottes,

Another great week in Graz!

Sister Gardner and I are just working hard and having fun, all at the
same time 🙂 That is good, but it also makes the time go by very
quickly. I cannot beleive it has been over a year of missionary
service for me. What is time? It goes by too fast, for sure!

This week we got to do some really cool service. One of the sisters in
our ward has a handicaped son who is in a wheelchair and can’t speak
or do much on his own, but is such a sweet guy. He requires a lot of
care normally and so his mother (though she does a perfect job) has
little time for much else.

She feeds him, though he can’t eat normal food so it is special as
well as his liquids, clothes him, bathes him, helps him record what he
did so he can share it with others through a recording device, cleans
after him and moves him from his bed to his wheelchair and back so he
is not suffering from just sitting all the day. It is really amazing
all that she does and how much love she does it all with. Still, it is
taxing for a woman to do all of that with her twenty-year- old son.

So, we stopped by on Saturday and were able to take him in his
wheelchair for a walk around her part of town while she got some other
things done around the house. I could really feel how much God loved
this sweet spirit and was thinking of all those who have imperfect
bodies and how special they all really are. I am so grateful to the
parents of these amazing people who really do love and look after them
even though it is a ton of extra work. We drove him around, took him
by a swing he used to ride as a child, and sang to him in the park.
Becuase Sister Gardner’s voice is so amazing, he was super excited to
hear it and was smiling a ton the whole time.

Like the typical members here, this mother had prepared a beautiful
dessert for us as we got back, even though we told her we did not
expect a thing. People are just too good! I hope someday I can serve
as fully and as dilligently as this sister. She is so wonderful.

We were also able to talk to some people. One night we delivered a
Book of Mormon to a woman named Bushpa, from India, and her family.
Her sister was there and let us in. They had just prepared dinner and
were super excited to have guests.

They let us in and we taught them about the restoration and the Book
of Mormon and they loved it. They are super interested to hear more.
On top of that, they told us a little bit about India and what it is
like to live here. They both have degrees in sciences but because of
the language barrier and foreign status, they have to work at food
places and minimum wage type jobs. It is really frusterating for them,
but they still appreciate it here. T

hey had also beautiful pictures from their indian weddings. They are
adjourned with jewels and henna tatoos on their arms and it is so cool
to see and hear traditions from other cultures. They were so open, fun
and bright. We are super excited to keep teaching them!

There was another family we started working with this week. They are
originally from Africa but have been here quite some time. The country
they came from in Africa is french-speaking. We had given them a
french book and so came back to explain it. They mostly speak French
so some parts of the lesson were a challenge to communicate, but with
the Ipads, the french materials, and ect we were able to share a
message with them about how families can really be together forever,
why there are so many differnt churches and how they might go about
finding this truth for themselvs.

They will be traveling to France to visit family this next week, but
we will see them after that! They loved the idea that the Book of
Mormon exists because it means that God has always worked with the
people all over the world and that He speaks to us still.

It is really cool to watch these small and simple truths completely
change the outlook and dynamic of familes as well as individuals. Just
as I have seen the sparkle in so many eyes appear after they feel the
spirit tell them that this book and gospel are true, I have felt my
own heart change.

I thought this week that perhaps it is more of an evolving than a
change. A change means something totally different.
I am still very much myself, just a lot further along than I might
have been before. I have evolved into a smoother, better person
without losing myself. 🙂 I know that only God could have helped me do
that and I am so grateful for the challenges and trails He sends me
that help me become better!

Life really is a time to learn, evolve and love. I know we can do that
as we find and embrace truth. I know the Holy ghost does that in each
of our hearts. Things that were once impossible become easy. Things
that once seemed unimaginable become reality and life becomes simply
more beautiful. I beleive that and I know that our faith is the
foundation of all of these amazing things. The scripture in the Book
of Mormon, Moroni 7:33 really describes that.

Anyways, I am so grateful to be out here and ich bin immer beser,
Mission sei dank.

Liebe Grüße,

Sister Smith

Graz, Austria

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Sister Gardner and Sister Smith in Austria

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Pday adventure, climbing up to an Austrian Castle and enduring the heat wave!

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Beautiful view of a beautiful place!

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Liebe Bekannten,

This week was really fun. The elders are super funny and easy to work
with, the members are fabulous and there are loads of them, and we had
a lot of cool experiences!

Last Monday I got to go up these steps to a big castle! Typical for
Europe, but still awesome. Then, on Tuesday we started doing service!
We helped a great member move into her new home and she is so cute.
She used to serve a mission here and later moved back. It was really
fun getting to know her as she helped us improve our German and told
us about her mission.

We also got to teach the young women about dance and song! Sister
Gardner is super talented with that so it was fun learning along with
the girls. One of the women in the ward who was baptised in Munich 3,
my first ward, came along with her two daughters. They were so fun and
we got along super well as none of us had super talents at dancing or
singing! Lol especially me. It was fun!

On Wednesday we taught an English class and went by a family. The
family was not there, so we decided to knock on some doors in the
area. We went up a flight of stars to the top floor only to find a
door with two video cameras on it and loads of Russian scary
propaganda stuff on it. Feeling a warning from the spirit, we stayed
until we both looked at each other and shared the feeling them got
downstairs. We were about to head out the door when a man came in and
asked what we were doing. A little frightened, sister Gardner stumbles
to say that. We are missionaries sharing a message and a book. I pull
out the book and start talking about it and he said he’d love to read
it! He gave us his number and we will see him later this week. Always
expect the unexpected, right?

This same experience happened again later in the week when we went
with the elders to the city center park to talk to people about the
gospel. We heard tons of nos and rude answers so we decided to offer
our free English course instead. People were nicer but still no
interest. We diced to ask about Jesus just once more before our time
was up and the man said he wasn’t so sure, but I asked him how he came
to that and he ended up offering us a seat by him and we were able to
teach him a lot about the Book of Mormon and what we believe. He asked
if he could learn more and how he might join this church. Lol it was
super cool!

We also visited a lot of struggling people, who don’t come to church
often. It was great to see the, rekindle their relationship with God
and to feel the peace that comes from the gospel. We were able to
offer a blessing and just be there for someone with depression and
offer some comfort for a woman in the hospital.

Missionary work is the best because we just get to offer so much light
and help for those in need. Our message helps everyone regardless of
circumstance and we can feel Gods love literally flowing through us to
these people. I love it! As we serve our brethren (or sisterin) 😁we
can be lifted, helped and blessed.

Have a great week and keep your eyes open for those who need your light!

Best
Sister Smith

Sent from my iPad