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.”

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