Another Great week in Graz!

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Her new dirndl!

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Elder McArthur and Elder Wise

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The lovely Sister Gardner

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The awesome sister Grossen and Sister Smith

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Elder McArthur

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This week was a little weird because my companion and I got sick with a virus. We weren’t able to get in too much contact with the Iraq family, but they still have their book and are working on it! 🙂

On Monday, though, we were able to work as usual and had some awesome experiences. We went by a family who was referred to us by a member of our congregation in Graz. We were to go by casually and just offer them to learn more from us as missionaries. I was about ready to stop trying because we had gone by many times, to no avail, but this time was different!

I rang the doorbell twice, waiting about 30 seconds in between. We started on our way when the father stepped out and asked if we needed something. I explained, a little amazed that he was there, that we were missionaries and that we shared a Book with people, especially families, that gives up hope and helps families be even stronger.

He smiled, and said he was extremely busy in the moment, but that we were more than welcome to return and tell him more about this book. He took the Book of Mormon and our phone number with a smile and went back inside to take care of his family. It was a miracle! You really never know when someone will be ready, but you can be sure that God counts his sheep and He sends his hands to those who are ready to accept the healing power of the gospel into their lives.

On Tuesday we got to go to Vienna for a missionary conference. It was a lot of fun to see everyone there!
We did a really cool activity where we took a basketball and spun around 30 times, looking at the basketball, then had to navigate through a maze of chairs to put it in the hoop. After spinning around so much, it was comical to try and navigate anywhere. We watched as all the missionaries, except Sister Großen, hit the same spot on the wall and then struggle to keep balance, being so dizzy, as they relayed the ball into the hoop. One missionary fell, without realizing he was falling and a few more crashed into the obstacles. It was hilarious.

Afterwards we talked about what things we do might be comparable to spinning around in circles before trying for a basket. We talked about disobedience, about things that just take up our time, and many other things. I think this principle can be applied to much more. In life, it is often that we are busy, but how often is it that we are just wearing ourselves out running in circles?
The gospel contains the instructions and the map to how we can get things done without spinning in circles, so to say, and the Savior is always there when we have perhaps spun a few too many times and fall down. Next time I get annoyed or feel tired after something I have gotten myself into, I will remind myself not to spin in circles, but to just do what is right!

On Wednesday we called the nurse, because we were sick and she referred us to the hospital, for lack of better doctor practices. It was really weird to go to an Austrian hospital and to watch the doctors check up on Sister Großen. I was thankful I could help translate and that we have companions always to help us on the mission. It’s a little scary to go to a hospital and be questioned and tested by foreign doctors, but it would be a lot scarier to do that alone! 🙂
The doctors concluded that it was a common virus, gave us some medicine and demanded that we rest for the next few days. We went the all the appointments we could and then got a lot of rest. We are feeling much better!

With the little we were able to do, I really got to appreciate how much I loved each appointment we made it to and how much I really do love being a missionary. Each visit, each conversation is meaningful and lovely. Each time I get to speak to someone or help in some way here, I feel God helping me and the power of heaven behind me. I know He is there always for us! I am excited to see what the next week brings!

Love,

Sister Smith

Graz, Austria

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Sister Smith with her wonderful Golden, Sister Grossen

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Austria

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Sister Gardner, Elder Wise and Elder Smith really took good care of Sister Smith on her birthday!

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Swartzenagger’s

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Sister Gardner made this amazing cake for Sister Smith on her 22nd Birthday!

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Yum! Sister Gardner is awesome!

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I swear there is a warped speed for missionaries. Missions go by so fast!

I’m not done or too close yet :), but I can’t believe all that has
happened and how long I have lived over here. You notice these things
as you are able to mindlessly navigate a city with buses, trains and
on foot without getting lost, even if one route is closed. You notice
this when you meet a family who wants to learn more about this gospel
and you are able to use a memory of a past family you met to help this
new one. You notice it when your new missionary companion is learning
the language you think in sometimes and dream in every night!

This week we talked to a lot of people. We are doing short surveys to
gather opinions of others and so that we can have conversations with
others about God and religion. We went to one building and there we
met a family from Iraq. This family has been here one month and speaks
very little English and even littler German, they speak Arabic. They
had been switching between Muslim and Christianity, unsure which hey
liked better. We asked them a few questions about the family and they
had no idea what we said. So we smiled, did your best to share a short
message after they so graciously let us in, and left them with a card.

The next day, we went back to finish talking to people in the building
and the whole family found us and begged us to come back and teach
them. They pointed to the card and said Jesus and smiled. We shared
what we could and made a specific time when we would come back with a
book in their language.

We returned he next day with a Book of Mormon in Arabic. As we used
the pictures to describe the story, they understood every word. It was
a miracle! In addition, bit parents were brought to tears by the
spirit. The father was able to come to church on Sunday while the rest
of the family was sick. We found one member who could translate for
Sunday school and we used google translate in Sacrament meeting. He
loves it and says he is for sure returning next week. We will continue
to teach them in Sunday school( the second hour of our church) then
read with them throughout he week. He is already in Nephi 4! So cool!

At another apartment complex, we were at the last door. It had a huge
warning sign saying huge dog will meet anyone on the other side of the
door within 5 seconds, if it wants to. Its a typical warning door
sticker here, but it definitely freaked me out. You probably already
know this but I had a deathly fear of dogs for a lot of my life.

Still, we decided to knock on the door and this guy our age comes out,
no terrorizing dog, and we explain to him that we are doing a survey,
could we please ask him some questions. He said yes and we went
through the questions. The lat one asks if there would be a book
outside of the bible written from prophets that comes from God would
you be interested to learn about it? He hesitated for a moment, thrown
off and said yes enthusiastically. We continued talking, he had never
heard of us before so we tried to make an appointment but he said he
would take a card and call us. Still, a way cool fear facing moment
for me! 🙂

I know that the greatest blessings in life come after the storms and
sometimes they even are the storms, funny enough. The more we go
through gracefully, the more we can learn, the more we do learn, the
stronger we get until one day we are as ready to meet God as we ever
will be and to live with Him and our families forever. You never know
what’s really behind the doggy door until you follow the outlines God
gives you, face the fears and do the right thing. After we act in that
faith, God will bless us! This is something I know. I want everyone to
be able to have these blessings, that’s why I am here!

It’s a great life, being a missionary!

Love,

Golden in Graz!

One of he coolest and yet most surprising things to me about my
mission is how many different cultures we have here. We’ve got loads
of Africans, Romanians, Hungarians, Egyptians, among many other
nationalities. With this, we have a lot of varied languages. You will
hear lots of tribal languages from Africa, Romanian, French, Italian,
German of course, Arabic, and English being spoken anywhere. That is a
challenge and a blessing!

One of he coolest experiences we had this week was meeting with a
family of investigators from Africa who speak French. They understand
German, but mostly speak French.

Luckily, I had just picked up my new missionary, my golden, Sister
Grossen. She is from Gilbert, Arizona, but spent much of her childhood
in Japan. She has since learned a total of 7 languages. None of these
is German, but one of them, is French! So, after the three hour church
block of solid German, we went to teach this family.

We were teaching them the Plan of Salvation, or plan of happiness, and
they seemed to understand, but I had a weird feeling and felt to check
to make sure they knew we were there to help them learn and act upon
our message by building up faith in Christ, repenting and being
baptized ( as the first three steps toward a lifelong decision to
follow Christ). So I did and they said they only believed that Christ
was a prophet and hey we’re not interested in changing their minds. We
respect that, but we couldn’t leave without bearing our testimonies.
So I told them hat I knew the Book of Mormon was the word of God and
that through it and through Christ we could return to live with God
and find true peace in this life and forever after.

My companion heard the wife as she in French also bore her testimony
that she believes in the Book of Mormom and was thinking of changing
her life to follow Christ, but ultimately would stick with the family
religion. He then also testified that he loved the Book of Mormon
after reading the whole thing in 2 days and knew it was the truth. He
said that we were doing the best work ever done and that we could come
back anytime, but that he would like to not go to our church or join
it. It was incredible to hear such a strong testimony of the book and
to be there to support it, even if he wasn’t quite ready to be more
involved with this church.

We were able to use our diverse talents to connect with this family
and share a strengthening truth with them. It was just another amazing
moment in the mission field!

Earlier in the week I had to say goodby, as did the ward here, to
sister Gardner. She was a lovely companion and stellar missionary!
Before she left, we visited a member who lives not too far from us. Is
member served in salt lake temple square. Her insights wee incredible
and she told about the missionary work she did then as well as the
work she is doing now. She had the opportunity to give a Book of
Mormon to someone in the workplace and she told us all about her
wonderful experience. This lady wants now to visit e church sometime.
I was so glad to see that her missionary spirit had only grown over
the years and that she was an amazing example to us of bringing all
our siblings to the truth.

I love being a missionary and I do it because I know God gave me
everything I have and I want to serve Him back, because I love all of
my heavenly siblings and want to bring them back home with me, because
I know that through this gospel we can have a fullness of joy now and
forever and because I put this religion to the test. It never fails
me. I love it!

I wish you all the best of weeks and look forward to learning ,ore new
things alongside sister Grossen!

Alles Gute!

Sister Smith

Training a Golden in Graz

beautiful waterfall from our Austrian hike

beautiful waterfall from our Austrian hike

I want to start by sharing my favorite scripture! It is in the
Doctrine and Covenants, a book of revelations given to the prophet
Joseph Smith that come from God and are for us to learn from. This
particular section is also a part of Christ’s teachings, it talks
about the lilies of the field. This verse is just after the other
section of verses but has given me a lot of comfort and strength
throughout my mission.
Section 84
“88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go
before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and
my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to
bear you up.”

I have felt these angels as I have served the Lord full time out here
in Europe. There are hard times, there are slow times, but for each of
those there are equal and oppositely beautiful times. In addition,
throughout these hard times I know that He is there, and I know
throughout my life whether or not I feel I deserve His support, it is
there.

The best part of the mission, though, might just be the moments when I
share that with others in one way or another and the idea takes root
in their hearts and they are able to feel His love and accordingly
change. This change comes slowly for some, but it comes and with it
comes a new kind of everlasting peace. It is truly an amazing thing to
seeing it is an honor to take part in it. What’s cool, too, is at
whether or not we asked for it, it happens on other levels to us all
as missionaries as well. As we share and learn, we are changed and
just make room for even more love, light and peace.

We had a great couple of weeks, talking with people from all walks of
life, learning new things and working with the lovely people who are
currently in Graz. There is a program here for a few more weeks, AIMS.
A few of these students from America have been visiting our church,
some are members, some not, but they bring with them a special vibe of
fun and love. Every time we see them they are so excited to see us. A
few of them are returned missionaries themselves and seeing their
ongoing enthusiasm for the work is uplifting and inspiring. It means a
lot to me that they reach out the way they do and just love us so
much. They probably don’t even understand what a big deal it is that
they are real friends to us and just bring us so much joy! You never
know when you’re being the angel. 🙂

Another one of those angels for me here is a sister in our ward,
Sister Mühlberger. We stopped by her just to say hello. She is
married and her husband is very sick a and not all there, but she
takes care of him most of the time. He is always very joyful ,but
doesn’t quite understand what he’s doing always. She just loves him
like she does us, fully. When we walked over, I rang their apartment
doorbell expecting to try and not be a burden, but to build a
relationship and serve her somehow. Instead,Che very act of us
thinking of her gave her so much joy, she lit up as we walked in the
door. She was thrilled at her chance to visit with us sisters and tell
us how she joined the church years ago in Austria and shower us with
treats and advice. We were able to share things with her and help her
out as well, but it was nice to be genuinely loved by a stranger. I
hope I can take others in like her!

She had been hearing from the missionaries, who back then had 12
lessons, for 12 weeks when one day one elder demanded that she be
baptised. Shocked, she threw him out and asked him to never come back.
His companion shyly turned and asked if he could return. She smiled
and said yes. After that, she thought about why they wanted her to be
baptised and this other elder was able to describe to her the
importance of the eternal promise with our Father. Through his loving
patience and kindness, she was able to learn for herself and
ultimately chose to join the church and be baptised. She is now very
happy and says she owes much to her membership of the church.

We also met with one of our Egyptian friends and talked to him about
the restoration of the gospel and of Christ’s church. He told us he is
Muslim but is interested to learn ,ore and see where it goes because
he feels that God has always protected him, even when he did politics
in Egypt. He tried to go against the norm and was shot at a few times,
but always safe because of his prayers. Even if he is not interested
in seriously learning from us it is great to hear more testimonies and
to build his testimony of prayer even more so that he will continue to
use that throughout his life.

As I talk with everyone, I realize how important God is as a loving
Father to us here who need Him. I know I need Him and I know others do
too. Drawing near to Him lightens lives. I know that! I am so
grateful for the deepened testimony I have gained through the
thousands of experiences I have had out here.

As an endnote, we got transfer calls again! I cannot believe how fast
time flies when you are working out here! I will be training another
missionary here in Graz! Sister Gardner will go about 2 hours north to
Wiener Neustadt and work with one of my old companions! Im sure we
have many good things in store for us as we follow our call and I am
thankful for all I have learned here this transfer!

Have a fabulous week!

LG,
Sister Smith