September 1 and September 7 blogs along with Pday pics of our visit to Arnold Schwarzenenegger

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Sister Gardners last Sunday in Graz, she’s so awesome, she’ll be missed by many!

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Banana chocolate chip pancakes (birthday breakfast made by the awesome sister Gardner!)

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Birthday package from home

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The Elders helped Sister Smith’s birthday be a lot of fun!

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Sister Smith, Sister Gardner, Elder Wise, Elder McArthur and two other elders eating lunch on a very hot day!

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Transfer Day in August—Sister Pratt, Sister Smith, Sister Priest and the new arrival of Sister Grossen (YAY!, Welcome!)

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Sister Smith and Sister Grossen in their darling new Dirndl’s!

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Arnold’s childhood home

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as her mom, the first thing I noticed is the bandages on her feet—blisters!!!!!! She walks and walks and has always gotten blisters but never answers me when I’ve asked her about them on her mission and has never complained—our missionaries are amazing!

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Tribute to ARnold????

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Come on Elder Wise and Elder McArthur,,,,if Arnold can do it, YOU can do it!

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Not so much a missionary picture! yikes!

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Gross!

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Seriously you don’t wanna mess with Sister Smith,,,,just know that you were warned!

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Beautiful Grounds of Arnold’s childhood home

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The elders really know how to do Birthdays! Sister Smith said funniest gifts ever, and very very clever!

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Out of order—september 7 first since we didn’t post last week—then below that is September 1 Blog

September 7~
Liebe Kinder Gottes,

So this week has been crazy! On Monday we traveled down to Vienna to have one-on-one interviews with our mission president. This happens every ”Quarter” in the mission and is really more of a conversation and his ability to offer us help or advice one-on-one. It was great and we learned a lot from him, as we always do.
That also meant that it took the whole day and then on Tuesday we were able to go to the Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum (the house where he grew up) It was a blast to go out there!
The rest of the week was the good part, though!

I had previously mentioned a family from Iraq. We were able to visit them again this week. They have two children, 7 and 9. They are the cutest people ever! So we were able to visits them with a member of our ward who speaks Arabic. He was more than happy to come with us and to translate.

What we didn’t expect from him was a beautiful testimony and so much help in teaching! He was amazing.

He told us all his conversion story of how he used to be in mafias and how he even started a mafia. He was the boss when an elder found him on the street and his life changed. The elder was able to stay in the area for 9 months as this member battled to overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol, his affiliations with shady organizations and being shot on the entire side of his body.
The elders visited his home at 4 in the morning to give him the antidotes he needed, they visited him in the hospital as he recovered from being shot and they still talk to him today. One of those elders was even able to help teach and baptise this member’s brother in the United States. You just never know who you might meet and what those people can overcome if they have God and a stubborn missionary on their side! 🙂

The family was very moved by this and afterwards he helped us teach them that God is their Father and that He loves them. We were all able to testify of the power of a personal relationship with God and what it means to talk to God in prayer- personal conversation, each day. They really felt the spirit. Then we invited them to act on it.

The mother was unsure at first to go to a church because she had seen religion tear a people apart. The member was able to talk to her and relate to her and then challenge her to come to church quite firmly. She agreed to take the whole family and see just once how it is. The husband beamed, having already been and loved it, and we left feeling very happy.

We were also able to go over with them the policies of teaching them about our religion. It can be dangerous for them to learn of Christianity because of where they are from. We were able to clear our teaching with them, but if they want to be baptized we will have to take some more steps to ensure their safety or they will have to wait until their residency is more solid. Still, we are allowed to visit and teach them!

The whole family was at church on time and stayed for all three hours. They loved, loved it! This member also brought a friend who was able to translate for them while also being introduced for the first time to who God and Jesus Christ are and what They do for us. The children were able to visit Primary, the kid classes, and despite not understanding a thing they sang along to every song and the other children all tried their best to be good friends to them. It was adorable. At the end of church the kids all asked if they could come back every day! haha Imagine that kids wanting to go to church every day!

The mother also pulled us aside after and we asked how she felt. She clasped her heart, as if it was a scene from a movie or something, and just said it was so beautiful. She said she really felt good! I love helping people feel the spirit because I know they feel happy and that is how God shares His love with us.

Just after that, the ward members got to work inviting them over and making sure they knew they had friends. The Family from Iraq invited us over this week for Pizza and said if there are ever any activities they want to come and they will come back to church!

It was truly amazing and just strengthened my testimony. They were able to learn about Jesus Christ for the first time, to feel the light of His love and to come closer to God through the true church! It was a perfect moment. I know God shares with us His tender mercies and that sometimes when people come out of dark places, God is willing to give them a little bit more light than ever before!

I love this work and am so excited to see what this week holds for these people and for the many new people we meet!

Love,

Sister Smith

September 7~

This week was great- filled with a lot of travel and talking to
people. We are trying something a little different with talking to
people. So, we have surveys that we ask people to answer so that we
can hear and gather their opinions. We also aka people to give us
opinions of videos we have about Christ, they are the because he lives
like 2 minute videos. We have had some really cool experiences with
them!

On Wednesday we were knocking on doors and asking for opinions when
one young ,man came to the door. He was about 15, and was excited to
watch the short video and give us feedback. We watched Because He
Lives together and afterwards we could all feel the spirit really
strongly. I asked him what he thought of it and he said it gave him
hope and it helped him know and feel that Jesus is there. He told us
about losing his mother to cancer and that he knows he can turn to
Jesus for comfort. We talked a bit more and he was feeling pretty
hopeful. He accepted the short brochure talking about the plan of
Salvation, but didn’t want to meet more with us. I know that God gives
His children exactly what they need when they need it. It was so cool
to be His hands in that moment for that young man.

On Thursday we went by some friends of one of the members of our
congregation here in Graz. They were not home, so we did the same
thing in knocking on doors near them. The first man to let us in had
just finished having surgery and had to lay down immediately so we
didn’t keep him long, just gave him a card.

We went to the top of the building and knocked on a door. A guy about
our age, a little older, came out. We started out by asking him the
questions and he was not super interested, but as we asked him about
what God meant to him, he felt stumped. He had not thought of what God
meant or about what kind of relationship he had with Him. He said
religion was always more of a cultural thing for him. As we moved on
to the next questioned, he said he realized how important religion is,
that it gives us hope in our lives. At the end, after a great
conversation, we invited him to learn more from us. He accepted and
was very happy to try coming closer to God this way!

On Friday the same thing happened. We met a girl from Slovakia about
our age and she immediately said yes to all the questions- even about
meeting with us again. She was really excited that we could help her
find out how she might come closer to God and how she could find Gods
truth for herself.

God always helps us see miracles when we follow His rules, guidance
and revelation! I know these people needed what we shared with them
and it is an honor to be a tool in His hands!

We can also see this in those we are teaching. This family from Iraq
has read almost all of First Nephi from the Book of Mormon and is so
excited and humbled each time we are able to stop by. The light of
Christ is growing in them as they learn about their Savior and use his
love in their lives! 🙂

Graz is a beautiful place with beautiful people! It is so cool to be
able to get to know them in so many different ways and to help them
come closer to Christ and true joy.
We are excited to meet with these people and to keep looking for those
who are ready for us! 🙂

I love this gospel and I love this work. I know it’s true and it
changes lives for the better!

Love,
Sister Smith