Sister Linford is currently serving in the Alpine German speaking mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This includes parts of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. As we get updates from her, we will post them here. If you would like to know more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or what a "mission" is all about, just visit www.mormon.org or www.lds.org, or you can leave us a comment and we can answer your questions.
Ahhhh.......hadfvbchaksdflauhseofuiawehfjnasmxcnioaüsd......I don't want to write this email. I don't want to admit that it will be my last one. I just don't know what to say. It still doesn't feel like I will be home soon. Here in Vienna...being a missionary, that is what "real" life is to me.....everything else is just a distant memory. Trying to imagine me coming home is something that I just don't think is possible for me. Everyone keeps asking me how I feel or if I am sad, but to me it has just been another fantastic week of missionary week just complete with a lot more questions and weird sympathetic looks being sent my way. I guess I will just be one of those that it doesn't hit me until a few days after I am home.
Enough with that, I am still a missionary as of yet and I have had a fantastic week! So I am going to tell you a little about it :). This week was all about the Loh family! We had lots of appointments with them and it was all leading up to the baptism that happened yesterday. It was seriously the sweetest baptism ever!
Gina, the mother, spoke about her inactivity a little bit and how it was the baby blessing that Bella had 9 years ago that got her to come back. This blessing talked all about how Bella would be raised in the church and how her parents would play a big role in that. She said that she remembers at the time of this blessing she was confused as she really hadn't been to church in a very long time and this blessing for Bella as a baby was to appease the grandma. However, as we missionaries reached out, the words of this blessing came back to Gina's memory with an unexpected force of peace. She knew she needed to start coming back to church after years of inactivity. So the Loh family started coming every week and we got the pleasure of teaching them!
Then Lars, the father spoke. He got up and said the he knew he wasn't a member but he did know a few things. Holy Cow, I won't be ever able to completely repeat what he said but everyone there was crying. He just promised Bella that she had found the right path. That through his lifelong journey of him searching, he had never felt so much peace and love then he had in the last few months in our church. He was so sweet about everything and you could tell that they both were so proud of her.
My companion and I also gave talks. It was such an incredible day! Bella is such an example to her family and I know that the rest of her family will also one day be baptized!
Our other investigators continue to do so well! They are all at big points in deciding when to be baptized. It is so fun to be working with so many families.....it brings such a deeper dimension to this work.
The ward here.....I know, I know......you hear so much about them! But this is the last time so bear with me! This past week has been a lot of goodbyes. I have been stuffed full of food every second as we run from one to another sharing our last memories together. They have been so so soooo good to me here. Yesterday they kept me busy as I had to give this huge goodbye thing in Relief Society as well as saying BOTH prayers ha, then I gave the Sunday school lesson with my companion, then I gave a talk and said a prayer in Sacrament meeting, THEN I gave a talk at the baptism. I was talked out to say the least......but everyone was so sweet to me. They just kept saying, "You will never be forgotten!" Which is all any missionary hopes to hear. Man I will miss it all so much......
I leave for Munich, Germany on Wednesday morning. And then it is off to America Friday morning. Whooo what a trippy week ahead of me. I hope to see you all shortly! As sad as I am to leave here, I am sooo excited to see everyone again! Just a reminder my flight comes in July 26th at 7:25pm. I will be on a Delta flight coming from Atlanta, Georgia. I would love to see you all there!
Spiritual Thought: D&C 10:4 "Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to translate; but be diligent unto the end."
Love you all, KEEP THE FAITH!
Sister Jessie Linford
Hey y'all! This week started with a Castle trip and ended with a baptism......so yeah, its safe to say it was a good one! Last monday, we went to the Belvedere, which is a beautiful castle. You would think with me having been out for as long as I have, I wouldnt need to pinch myself anymore.....but, that is just not the case! I have to ask myself all the time if I really am in Austria. And the answer is YES :). I am a lucky one!
This week I was a little bit of everywhere. I spent 3 days on an exchange in a city called Graz. It is the second largest city in Austria. It was fun to see another city in this mission. I haven't gotten to do an exchange where I went to another city since last December when I went to Hamburg. I was really excited, but also really not looking forward to leaving Vienna. As my time is now under 2 weeks, every second here means so much to me. However, I was able to push that aside and have a fantastic time in Graz with Sister Ackerman. As always with exchanges....you have some good laughs, lots of chats, super awesome lessons, and.....ice cream! haha its just a must. I had a great time in Graz, but the 2.5hour train ride home could not go faster! I was sooooo excited to get back to Vienna! I just love it here a little too much.
This week was also Zone Training, where all the missionaries in the east half of Austria came together. It as always was really good, until the sneak attacked happened......those little weasels! I was just sitting enjoying the meeting and just as I thought the closing song was about to start.....nope....."We have some missionaries ending soon, we would like them to come up and give their last hoorah!" That just ain't cool. Why do you gotta take a perfectly enjoyable afternoon and spoil it with something like that?! But that was just the start......I got up, said my thoughts, and sat back down. It didn't really hit me. Despite getting questioned by just about everyone I know in Vienna how I feel about going home, it still hadn't hit yet. But that was soon to change.....
A few weeks ago the big broadcast came out from the church talking about missionary work. Our stake planned a day just last week that we would all come together and watch it. Well shoot........the broadcast was awesome, but, SO HARD! I felt my heart was being ripped out the entire time. It was the weirdest thing! As I watched, it finally hit me. It was physically painful to finally understand what was coming. The joy that these people have in the broadcast, is my every day life. It is something that has become who I am. It seems to be now all that I know. Every person that I have met and now love crossed my mind. These people are family to me. They have seen me grow and because of them, I am forever changed. Its hard to know that will end soon.....
Speaking of these people, they are doing so so well! Bella's baptism is this Sunday and I couldn't be more excited. I even get to give a talk at it :). Everyone else, seriously is just doing great!
When I came to Vienna, I made goals. When I had only a month left of my mission, I made more goals. And it has been my entire focus to reach these goals. I want to leave this program bursting with prepared investigators ready for baptism. I still remember coming to Vienna, not even having a map. We started from absolutely nothing and I have never enjoyed and felt so invested in an area before. It has been unreal to see so many miracles unfold on a daily basis.
Of course I can't forget the members! They are just too freaking good to me. Listen to all the things they did for me this week........played volleyball, took us out to the country side and we had a picnic and picked cherries :), took us out to a Chinese restaurant (rare occasion on a mission!), gave us multiple rides (even more rare! In fact, first time my entire mission and it happened like 5 different times!), fed us....LOTS, and last but not least.....TOOK US TO AN OPERA! Yeah, the Huy's took us to the Mozart Opera right in the heart of the city!! say whaaaat?! It was so freaking cool!
Spiritual thought: "Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” Heleman 5:12
I testify of Him, that He has overcome the world, that He will never forget or abandon us, for He has graven us upon the palms of His hands. I testify that those who keep His commandments will grow in faith and hope. They will be given strength to overcome all of life’s trials. They will eperience peace that passes all understanding.
I wish you all the best this week! KEEP THE FAITH!!!
Whooooo, HAPPY 4th of JULY!! (sorry its a tad late!) Dont worry though, I proudly rocked the red, white, blue all day on Thursday! Being in Europe for so long has just made me so much more aware of culture and my patriotism! This was seriously just such a good week! I know I keep saying that and it has probably gotten really annoying (bare with me there are only 2 more of these emails coming that are clogging your inboxes!)..........but its just true!
Where do I even begin? Lets start with the glorious Andy. Well her real name is Andrea, but she goes my Andy for short. She is 30 and the cutest thing ever. One of the most prepared people I have ever seen on my mission. We have been teaching her the last 2 weeks and last week we spent every free day she had with her. Guess what folks.....SHES GETTING BAPTIZED!!! Yep, just after I go home, in August. She is so cool. She is so excited to get baptized to. She keeps saying, "I cant believe it took me 30 years to find this!"
Other peeps: Doris, she continues to do well! She had some extremely difficult questions that she was firing off in our last lesson. She use to be a Catholic Minister and so she thinks deeper than most. There was a moments where it just felt intense. I stopped talking for a bit and let my companion and the member continue on.....I just stopped and prayed with all my might....I waited until I felt i should talk. Words were coming out of my mouth that I didn't even know. The room stopped and doris was just still as I talked. The spirit was so insanely strong that even the member started crying. There was a complete change in everyone and in the rest of the lesson. It was one of those sureal moments where the spirit guided and I can promise I had nothing to do with what happened. But it did happen, and Doris along with everyone there including myself, was changed by it.
The 4th of July was one of the happiest days of my life! I have no idea why, but it was just perfect! and so american :). The day started out with a fantastic lesson at the Loh family's home. They gave us American bagels and cream cheese! Oh how I have missed that combo the last year and a half. We had such a good time with them and Bella is sooo excited for her baptism that is in less than 2 weeks. She asked me to give a talk at it.
Then, we had a fantastic lesson with Andy complete with some delicious Gellato. Nothing beats that combo!
Next was a good ole time at English and German class where I teach Intermediate English to some hilarious people. One of my students brought me American candy and rocked the red, White and blue with me even though she is from Iran haha.
But, I saved the best for last......we had a party at the Huys family's! Oh how the Huy's really feel like family to me. More so than any others I have met on my mission. He is German and she is Mongolian but they throw a big party for the missionaries every 4th of July. And boy was it a party! We had 8 missionaries, investigators, members, and neighbors. It was soooooo fun!! We just laughed the night away and ate even more American food!
The weekend took a strange turn however. My companion woke up Friday morning with a really red and puffy eye. We just laughed it off. She decided it would be best if she didn't put any eye make up that day. Well no eye make up turned into a trip to the pharmacy to get some help pronto, which then turned her into one eyed willy.....which landed us in the hospital. But the hospital was not working with us so we took her home and she took a benedryl.......12 hours later she woke up and we started the hospital adventure all over again. We were there all day Saturday (cant wait for American health care!) the poor thing got a major eye infection! The past few days I have been going out with members and the international sisters while she has had to stay home. She had to spend the yesterday morning in the hospital again and couldn't even go to church. But she has been a trooper and we have just laughed through the whole thing! She woke up this morning and its almost healed....miracle!
Spiritual Thought: “Here then is a great truth. In the pain, the agony, and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a refiner's fire, and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong.” -James E. Faust.
Thanks for all the love and support! I cant wait to see you all soon. For anyone who would like to come, I will be home on July 26th at 7:25pm at the Salt Lake Airport.
Sister Jessica Linford
LAST WEEK TO SEND A LETTER :) :
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr gasse 59/top/9
Well well, another week come and gone! Time is just the silliest thing! This week was another amazing week in Vienna......I just don't think anything less is possible in this city. Funny things happened, amazing things happened, and I got to be a missionary......if that is just not perfection, I don't know what is.
Lets start this weeks letter off with the funny things. Oh with Sister Judd, this topic is never short in supply! Sister Judd may have accidental forgot the keys in her excitement to pick up a package that was waiting at the post office! Yep, that meant that the joy from the package was short lived when we realized we were locked out. We called the other sisters and they were way across town. With no map, no backpacks, no anything of help, we set off on our way across the city in hunt for the other sisters. It was quite the adventure that resulted in a lot of laughs and a lot of wrong turns.
Also, I made a deal with Sister Woods, one of the sisters I have lived with here in Vienna. If she would finally pierce her ears, I would let her choose the color that I would dye my hair. The only rule was that it couldnt be mermaid red. haha. A deals a deal, and she kept her end up so it was my turn to let her choose the fate of my hair. She chose a dark blonde. We then took it home to dye it. Wellshoooooot, I dont know who thought it would be a good idea to let Sister Harman (who has been out on her mission for only 2 weeks) read the instructions......please note they only come in German and sister harmon does not yet speak the language! So yep........we did it totally wrong haha. It caused some funny screaming moments in our apartment for a few moments. My hair just went somehow darker. But it could have been worse.
Also, another event that we still are not sure exactly how it happened.....was just yesterday. I have no idea how but.....Sister Judd tripped and started to fall. In my attempt to be a heroic companion, I tried to catch her.....in the end we were both LAYED OUT on the sidewalk. Like completely on the ground, flat on our backs. These men saw it and ran over to help us. We were laughing too hard to really be able to tell them we were okay, but in the end I think they got the message. Whooo, we definitely made a scene!
This week also had some amazing things that happened! We had some seriously rocking appointments with our investigators. They are all making incredible progress! I really feel there are going to be soooo many baptisms that result in the coming months.
The Loh family is doing amazing! Man I love every second I get to be with this crew! The baptism is now going to be July 21stbecause Bella wants it to be the best last Sunday I have before I go home :). They spoil us every time we are at their home and make us american goodies like Rice Krispy treats.....oh how I have missed a little taste from USofA! Lars the father is really starting to come around and I think we are going to see some water action with him soon too.
Okay here is the ward section! I LOVE THEM!! We have had some amazing times with these people this week! We even had a big ward activity on Saturday. It was a Grillfest as they called it! Face painting, bocce, volleyball, and LOTS of good food. It was a blast!!! We were able to get lots of Investigators to it, along with less active members. It was a big success :).
Thanks for the amazing love and support! It means a ton to me! I hope you are all enjoying your summers, and never forget to KEEP THE FAITH!!!
Love, Sister Linford
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr gasse 59/top/9
Hallo hallo! I feel as though my last email was just written yesterday...... goodness how time flies! These week was blazing hot! It was mid 90's with high humidity. It wouldn't be so bad if people in this country had AC, but that is just not the case. The heat carried over to the work and things were cranked up a notch here :).
Wait for it..............we have a new baptismal date! Woot woot!! How is that for a good week?? It comes from the incredible family I told you about in my last email. The Loh family is half American, half Austrian. The mom is a member but has been inactive for years until recently. The father, Lars, is not a member but we are working on that :). They have 4 cute little girls whom they have agreed to let us come and teach. The oldest girl is Bella. She is almost 10 and has chosen to be baptized on July 14th! She wanted to make sure I got to see her get baptized AND confirmed before I went home :). Man I love this family!
Things with our other investigators are also going so well :). We are working with so many moms and familys. It is has been a big difference for me as most of the people I have worked with on my mission have been single. It has really stretched me in new ways, and I absolutely love teaching with the family focus.
This week also had some firsts and lasts. We started working with some new people this week that are pretty stellar. I will explain more about them in the coming weeks hopefully. However, it was also time for me to say goodbye to Oyuka. She is going back to Mongolia to visit her family until August....meaning that by the time she is back in Austria, I will be home in Utah. We had a goodbye party for her and just laughed and laughed. It was such an incredible journey to be apart of. I love my little Mongolian!!
This ward continues to be so incredible to us. On Sunday we had three people come up to us and ask us if we would spend Christmas with them haha....I guess they prep early in the year here! The Huy family honestly feels like they are my family. It makes Vienna feel like home when the ward you are in treats you so well and so much love is sent our way. I was riding on a tram the other night and just thinking about things.......the reminder that I was going home soon came in a text from a member asking me for my home information. As I stared at the text and then out the window....it just made me realize I would give just about anything to be able to stay longer. It sometimes hurts thinking about it, so I just choose most of the time not to.
Other cool news........I got to my favorite thing in the entire world last Monday for pday....I got to go on a ROLLER COASTER!! I think it was one of the happiest moments of my life. I just laughed and giggled the whole time as tears of joy streamed down my face....hahaha I am pathetic. It was fantastic though. The man working the roller coaster saw just how thrilled it made me, and let us go twice with no extra charge! So awesome :)
Spiritual Thought: This week I have focused all my studies on love. It stemmed from a question I had about how can I become a better disciple of Christ? Every major commandment Jesus Christ gave us, all have to do with love. He said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy soul and with all thy heart, and with all thy mind." That is the first great commandment. The second is similar as it tells us we must "...love thy neighbor as thyself." If love is the greatest commandment it should be at the center of everything we do.
Love is the power that brings friendships, tolerance, and respect. It is the fire to our lives with unparalleled joy and hope. The promise is when we truly understand what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and priorities align. What a beautiful promise! As we do this our lives become more enjoyable, they have more meaning, and our relationship with God becomes more profound. President Uchtdorf said, "We don't love God for Him.....it wont change his dominion. God doesn't need us to love him- But oh how we need to love God!"
Our love determines our desires and ultimately what we seek in life. What we seek determines what we do and think. And what we do and think determines who we are and who we will become. ........what are your desires right now? In what direction are they pointing you? WHAT WE LOVE DEFINES US! And love is THE defining characteristic of a disciple of Christ. Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for obedience and the attitude of discipleship!
Well I hope you all had a wonderful week! I am excited to hear of all the fun summer happenings :). I miss you but I can wait to see you.......hahahaha. jk, but seriously. KEEP THE FAITH
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr gasse 59/top/9
Hey heyyyy! It is soooo hot here in Vienna, but beautiful as ever! My farmers tan is really starting to take nice form :). I hope everyone is taking time to enjoy Summer 2013 while we have it!
Well biggest news of this week, I have a new companion! If you have followed my emails at all, you know that companions scare the crap out of me. They can be reeeaaaallllllll crazy and difficult. Each time I get a new one I am nervous at what is going to be thrown at me that the eye cant see at first meet or even in the first week. However, this time was different. I had heard great things about Sister Judd and had the greatest feeling of peace as I heard that she was coming here as my last companion. AND HOLY COW IT IS FANTASTIC! I have laughed non stop since Thursday afternoon! She is such a hard worker and has fantastic German! We have clicked so quickly and have found it so easy to teach together. She was prayed into my life at this time, and I honestly wouldn't want anyone else to end my mission with......don't hate on the cheesy-ness of that last line :).
The work continues to go so well here! I have said this at least 30 times before in emails.....but I LOVE VIENNA!! The people here are so deep in my heart. Oyuka continues to just amaze me! She has done so incredibly well since her baptism. Last week at church she turns to me and tells me she wants to give a talk. I looked at her confused and asked in about 5 different ways to clarify if I was really understanding her correctly. She finally said, "Look I want to give one! How else is the ward going to get to know me?!" hahaha,so I went up to the bishop and we got her on the schedule yesterday. It was sooooo amazing to see her up in front of all 100 people just bearing her testimony and telling them how much she loves them. It was one of those, "My baby is all grown up!" moments. Sadly, she leaves for Mongolia this week until August.....which is after I leave to go home....so this week is goodbye :(. Wow, she has changed my life.
The Loh family is a part member family we have been working a lot with.She is from America, he is from Germany. They have 4 beautiful daughters. I have worked really hard on this family ever since I got here. We have seen soooo much progress with them! We meet with them every week now. The little 9 year old is getting baptized soon, we are setting a date this week :)))). I feel the Father will be soon to follow. Working with families is so awesome!
Speaking of families, the Mörwalds are also making lots of progress! She is coming to church this next week and they pray as a family every night now. Another family we work with, Doris! She continues to love the plan of salvation and we are really working with her now on how to implement the gospel teachings into her family's life. Working with families is so incredibly rewarding. I haven't gotten too many chances on my mission, and I feel so blessed to be getting them now!
Also this week......i found a love for Flomarkts as they are called here. I cant even remember the word in English for it ha, but its place where people come and set up booths with really really cheap stuff.......oh my heavens I found some goods....and they are soooo cheap! Me and my comp were going nuts, "Oh my gosh....look at this!! Its so German looking right?!", "I bet I can get it for 2 euro!", "Put it on the table and walk away......you can get it for half that. Yep, she fell for it!" We were loving every second of it. Last 6 weeks of p days here=FLOMARKT SHOPPING!
Spiritual Thought:I was reading the last few verses in the Book of Mormon the other day. What a task it would be to try and find the words to sum up a book of such significance. It gives such powerful advice though. #1.It tells us to Come Unto Christ! To do this we must allow him/choose to be perfected IN him. Please not that IN is an action word. It is not sit there and he will come to you. It requires us to do. SO what are the actions we must do? It says we must first, deny ourselves of all ungodliness. This means to really commit your ways to the Lord. Not just saying you want to be good- but actually being good, by steering far away from any bad.The second thing we must do is to love God with ALL your might, mind, and strength.Love needs to be the purpose behind your good or godly acts! You need to completely surrender yourself to the Lord-your whole self. These two work hand in hand. You need both. They work hand in hand.
When we do this, THEN, #2. His grace is sufficient for you- and by His grace you MAY be perfected in Him! This is our goal here on earth! To be perfected even as He is! Our process of being perfected, is brought about by His grace. I also want to focus on the word "may" here and look at it more of a "you will be allowed to". It is still our choice- if you dont do the things in #1 then you are choosing not to be saved/perfected by his grace. they also give a promise here....that when you see the grace of Christ (or even the Light of Christ) you cannot deny there is a God! it is through people that are doing the things found in '1 that radiate this light for others to see.They become a living testimony of Gods power and grace.
#3Santified in Christ by the grace of God! "deny not his power, you allow yourselves to become perfected in Christ, by the grace of god"--Then by that same grace you will become sanctified!! This sanctification is through the shedding of Christs blood. Which is the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins.Sanctification is becoming holy-holy without spot.It is a setting apart, a changing, a cleansing, that the powers of earth cannot touch.As Heleman 3:35 says. Sanctification comes when you yield your heart to God. When we are sanctified, the scriptures ends with saying, THEN, we are ready to live with God our eternal father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, forever.
Thank you all so much for the love and support! It has been so felt the last little bit as the end is in sight. I wish all the best for you and pray that you will always KEEP THE FAITH!!
Love, Sister Linford
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr Gasse 59/top/9
Whoooo! Beautiful week, right? Some cool things happened, I am in the beautiful city of Vienna, and the sun was shining, what more could one ask for? Lots of great things happened this week, and I cant wait to share the excitement ....butterflies inside me right now :).
Might as well start out with some food talk. Not just any food, but schnitzel of course! So this is a food that I have never had on my mission! Every missionary about falls over when they hear I have gone my entire mission without eating schnitzel. Its a rarity. Well when my district heard this, they concluded that it just could not go on any longer.....so, they organized a district lunch to the most famous schnitzel restaurant in Vienna. It was a blast!! I could only eat 1/4 of the massive schnitzel that came out on not just a plate, but a platter! So, I feel like I am more legit now that I can say I have had schnitzel :).
I haven't talked much about Doris before now, because somehow my emails just get taken up by Oyuka's awesomeness. However, Doris has got some awesomeness of her own worth talking about! So Doris is a referral from members that live quite far away. They were insisting that sisters teach this woman and so being the only German speaking sisters in the mission, we had the opportunity to teach Doris. Doris has a whopping 6 kids...which is just unheard of in this country. She is in her 30's and is so cool! Well anywho, we have been teaching Doris the last few weeks and things are going well with her! The members that gave us the referral are so fantastic and always are there helping her with anything she needs. We went in depth over the Plan of Salvation last time. She has a 6 month year old baby that has a lot of medical problems such as no hands and a really bad cleft pallet. When she heard that we will all be resurrected to a perfect state, she looked at her baby and said with almost desperation in her voice, "Even laura?? She will have hands??" It was such a tender moment for me to be able to look her in the eyes and bare testimony that her daughter will not always have to face these challenges and tell her that I know that her daughter must be sooo strong and one of God's elect to have the challenges that she does. Tears streamed down Doris's face and the faces of the members that were present as well.
This week we had a really special opportunity. There has been some bad flooding happening in Germany and Austria. We don't get to hear too much because we are missionaries and don't have access to news. But, we knew that many places outside of Vienna had been hit hard. Saturday, all of the missionaries in our Zone along with many many other volunteers got bussed out to places where they needed help. The morning started at 5am and we worked harder than ever until 7:30pm. It was exhausting as we shoveled mud for hours and hours. But, it wasn't about the blisters or aching backs.....no it was about the poor people that just lost so much! It was so heart wrenching to see their faces wear so many emotions. What was incredible, is even in there state of loss, they always were so thankful to us. They would cry as they saw our torn up hands on their behalf. Whooo talk about an emotional and incredibly humbling day. I am so thankful for ever service opportunity I get to be apart of, and this one was just special. Best part is, we get to go back again this week and help more.
Well this email is already incredible long, but some many more incredible things happened! One of which being I survived transfer calls! I use to be so excited for them, and now....I just hate them haha. But good things came for me on my last transfer call. I get to stay in Vienna!!! That is all I wanted for my last 6 weeks. Plus, I am getting a freaking awesome new companion named Sister Judd! She is from Las Vegas and if I could choose someone in this mission to serve with, it would be her! So I am stoked!
Spiritual Thought:I came across a scripture that hit me hard this week. It is simple, but powerful and resulted in many thoughts. It is found in Psalms 35:9, "And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation." Do we really look to lord for our happiness. Or do we rely on other sources such as music, cars, etc. Now God gave us all those things to help us be happy, but we must check ourselves and really ask if our TRUE SOURCE of happiness is in the Lord and his masterful plan for us. In that we will find more piece, joy, contentment, and ultimately salvation than anything else can bring us. Are your actions showing that your soul really is pointed to God or not?
Thanks for your love and support! Miss you all! KEEP THE FAITH!!!!
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr Gasse 59/Top/9
Can you believe its June?? Time just doesn't make sense these days! I hope everyone enjoyed May, I know I did :). But I am ready for June and here it is!
This week started with an amazing P-day adventure to a castle! We went with our entire district and had a blast! The elders in my district are really awesome and hilarious, so it makes district time something to look forward to. We went in and toured all the rooms as well as explored the massive gardens. I will be sure to send some pics!
This week was such an incredible week! I got to go to a concert (hey now, just a symphony one!) at a castle :)! Yep, how many people can say that one? Man I love serving in Vienna! It was Sister Drury's birthday, so we got permission from our mission president to go enjoy some authentic Austrian culture :).
The birthday celebrations continued as the family I am closest with threw me a surprise party with the best food and friends a girl could ask for :). A member took us to a restaurant that was really nice and one that we pass all the time making dreams that one day we might get to eat there.....that one day happened :).
But most important is the story of Oyuka!! :) We met with Oyuka everyday in preparation for her baptisms. We shared sooo many incredibly spiritual moments this week. Her simple perspective always seems to pierce me in new ways. She sums up feelings and experiences in just a few words, but they are always spot on.
On Monday she got a blessing from the elders for the first time. She was having to make a lot of big decisions in her life and she wanted a little extra guidance. After the blessing, I asked her how she was feeling. She said, "Connected. Gods hands were just on my head. I feel connected to Him."
Then another night we watched the Joseph Smith movie with her as we reviewed the Restoration. She watched it so intently. At the end, I once again asked how she was feeling. Her response, "Changed. My whole body feels it, but my heart feels it the most. It is true, and because of it, I am changed." The next day, we were trying on baptismal dresses to see which one fit Oyuka. As we concluded which dress was the best, I asked her once again, how she was feeling. She said, "Ready. No more black stamps on my white. I am ready to be clean."
On Saturday, as she stepped out of the water from being baptized, I didn't have to ask her how she felt. As she walked up the stairs from font, water still dripping in her eyes......she said with the biggest smile, "I feel......fresh! I am pure now. This is the new me."
The spirit that accompanies a baptism is unmatched. It always finds a way to shock me with how strong it is. It has been such an amazing week that led up to a beautiful day. It just seems to wipe away all other worries in the world as if they don't matter, because they don't.
Incredible. Simply incredible.
Well I don't want to take away from the amazing story of Oyuka, but you deserve a funny story of the week, right? Well here it is! Yesterday we gave the lesson in relief society. We gave it on member missionary work. Well right in the middle of a really good discussion, something was said from a pretty feisty sister, that many of the other sisters in the room did not appreciate.....the next thing you know......full on screaming.....a near brawl! hahaha it was awful!!! The Relief Society president was having to separate people and calm everyone down! I was standing at the front of the room soooo confused at what was going on. It was nothing we said or did, but needless to say, I was questioning if I had said something wrong in German or something. At the time this experience was horrifying, now it is just hilarious! Worst teaching experience.....CHECK!
Spiritual Thought: This week I have been thinking a lot about the Holy Ghost. At the last supper, Christ saw that his apostles were going to need help after his Crucifixion. He told them, " Let not your heart be troubled....And I will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.....But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14;1,16,26) The promise of The Comforter blesses are lives immensely. This is the most precious gift that Heavenly Father gives us on earth. It allows us to always feel His love and presence in our lives. It also says in Moroni 10:5, "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." This promise is not just for the Book of Mormon. The spirit is sure. It is real. And it shows to us all truth. We just must remain worthy of it. This week.....be worthy of the Holy Ghost to be your CONSTANT companion. If you do this you will feel, Connected, Changed, Ready, and Fresh.
I hope you all have an incredible week ahead of you! Transfer calls are this Saturday. I am pretty sure that I will stay with my companion here in Vienna, but you never know. Last transfer of the mission here we come!! I miss you all and hope that you KEEP THE FAITH!!!!!!!!!
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr Gasse 59/top/9
I hope everyone had a fantastic week! The weather here has been really rainy and drab, but it cleared up just for one day and that day was the most important :)......why it was May 24th of course! And the sun was shinning for all of Vienna to see! I think it was a little birthday present from the man upstairs. He also allowed me to hear Adele 6 times that day......6!! He is too good to me.
My birthday was a good one! We had lots of good appointments but the best was at the end of the night! The wonderful Sister Martinz(I served with her in Berlin) invited me over for a fantastic birthday dinner and games! I had so much fun with her and her husband! She was the one who made my birthday last year so great as well with us roasting marshmallows......the girl knows how to make someone's day special!
When I got home the cake mix that my mom had sent me was already made and frosted with candles in it waiting to be lit! The other sisters I lived with decorated the apartment and were waiting for us to come home, they are such cuties! We had a fantastic princess themed party and danced to efy cds. hahahaha, oh the life of missionaries!
Things continue to go great here in Vienna with the work! We have had a fantastic week as we help Oyuka prepare for her baptism this Saturday! She has just been beaming the entire week. It is so cute to see her as she tells people that she is getting baptized on June 1st......she gets soooo excited every time. She has made so many amazing insightful comments this week in our lessons that have made me see things with new eyes.....the power of Oyuka is incredible. She strengthens my faith every time we meet with her. She is ready for this step, and I can't wait for Saturday to come!
The ward continues to be a favorite topic for me! We had the funnest Talent Night on Saturday! The ward got soooo into it! It went almost 3 hours, and everyone loved it. We also were able to bring 5 different investigators to it! It was SUCH a fun night!
We also were invited 5 different times this week for dinner, wowza this ward is making us plump haha. I love getting to know the members here and to hear their conversions stories are inspiring. This ward has definitely been the most enjoyable for me to serve in of all my wards. Plus they volleyball every Saturday......could it get any better? Nope, I don't think so.
2 Funny things happened this week.....both happened within about 10 minutes of each other and both were at that beloved birthday dinner appointment with Theresa and her husband Perry. So Theresa asked me to go get some basil outside in the garden. I was like....um.....yeah, I have no idea what basil looks like! So she explained it and told me just to go pick a few. So i go out there and pull 3 weed looking these out and take them to her. She immediately starts laughing and shows her husband. I quickly found out that she wanted just leaves plucked out....not the whole stem with dirt hanging off the bottom......hahah I laughed and said basil comes in a bottle in America! We all got a good kick out of it.
But, that was the lesser of the two embarrassing moments of the evening. The other one belongs to my companion. She was praying and was trying to say Perry and Theresa's last name....however she had forgotten and just tried to mumble out something that resembled it. Whoooo hahahahahah she was way off!!! She accidentally said the word for male genitalia......now she had no idea what that word even meant, but Perry and Theresa were choking they were laughing so hard! When they finally calmed down enough to tell us what it meant we died right along with them! I don't think Sister Lin will ever live that one down!
Spiritual Thought: This week there has been a line that has particularly been stinging in my mind. It is, "Repent from Mediocrity " It has led to many thoughts about the topic of repentance. As I teach investigators about repentance it is always my hope that they can see it as an invitation of love to return towards god and not a chastisement. That they will understand that it is a journey and not just a one time event. It becomes apart of us, shaping the way we think and feel. Repentance means that there is always greater happiness ahead.
Now that I have expressed my ideas on Repentance I hope to bring it back to this saying that has hit me deep this past week. What is so wrong with being mediocre? The distance between mediocrity and excellence can be ever so small. Its as simple as Gordon B.Hinckley put it, "Be excellent!" To do this we must “Look to God, and live” (Alma 37:47). He will help you. He will bless you. He will comfort and sustain you. There will be progress. There will be growth. There will be improvement. And there will be much of added happiness.
Thanks for all the birthday wishes this past week :)! I hope you all know how grateful I am for such amazing friends and family! Have a great week, and KEEP THE FAITH!!!
Love, Sister Linford
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr Gasse 59/Top/9
Man alive, this has just been a fantastic week... I just don't even know where to begin! My mother asked me in her last email if Austria felt like home yet...... absolutely! To me my time here in Austria has been a time of growth. It has been the polishing as I near the end to an INCREDIBLE experience. I am warning I have been in quite the stupor of thought today about it all haha, so my spiritual thought may be long. Before we get into that though, lets take you through the miracles of the Vienna 1st ward sisters!!
I am not even going to wait to share the most exciting of the news.....we have 2 baptisms coming up! WOOT WOOOOOOOT! First up, Oyuka! I shared in my last email the story of Oyuka. She is so freaking awesome! This week, during one of our lessons, she asked if she could get baptized sooner because she didn't want to wait until July. Well folks, new date JUNE 1st!! When she chose that day, a jolt exploded inside of me. That day belongs to my dear Elina, who got baptized a year ago on that date. I almost suggested another day, as I felt this need to protect that day and reserve it forever for Elina.....but than a peace came over me and June 1st is just going to forever be my favorite day of the year now! I get to think back on the joy that I had seeing Elina step out of the water and give me a giant wet hug, and add more memories in just a short two weeks.
Next up, Mohammed Ali. Nope, not kidding, that is his name. He is golden too! I met Mohammed on the street about 2 weeks ago. I got his number and told him I would call and make out an appointment. He couldn't meet for 8 or so days, and I was a little skeptical as to whether he would really come through or not. Saturday rolls around and low and behold, Mohammed shows up to our appointment, right on time in a suit. We had SUCH a powerful lesson with him. Whoooo, the spirit was so strong I just got shivers down my spine just thinking back on it. We committed him to baptism on June 22nd! He chose the day :). Then he looked at me and said, well that means we need to meet a lot before then so I will be ready! I want to really be ready! So we booked out every appointment up until his baptism in June :). To tell you a little more about Mohammed......He is 46 and from Somalia originally. He has lived in Austria for over 20 years. He definitely acts like an Austrian. He speaks German and Arabic. He is a businessman and sadly has no family members left. I can't wait to meet him later today and find out more!!
The ward here in Vienna is just so great! They simply just love us sisters!! Every sunday we walk out with bags of goodies that the members got for us. And you won't hear me complaining!! I have also never have been so busy at church! I have either had to teach or give a talk every sunday since I have been there! And when I am not teaching, I am translating....whoooie, its exhausting! But, I love it :). Especially now that I can actually speak the language!
We had an awesome service project this last week! A family in our ward asked us and the elders to come and help them with landscaping their yard. As we arrived the wife informed us that she had a little secret plan and that us sisters were actually going to help a old neighbor of hers. We went and knocked on the 86 year old's door belonging to Frau Stephen. She was the cutest thing ever! We worked hard in her yard and got her a chair next to us and just chatted with her for hours. She just kept saying how grateful she was for us. At the end she gave us a big hug and I told her that I was the one to be grateful because it allowed me to feel like I was with my grandma again who passed away 5 years ago. I told her that her hugs were just like my grandmas and that I use to garden with her too. (For all my family that knows, haha she even did a Vernice butt pat!) Tears streamed down her face and she told me that she was never able to have kids, but that she truly felt that I was her granddaughter in that moment. It sounds cheesy I know, but it honestly was such a sweet moment. I know for some reason, that my grandma really was there with both of us that day.
Our investigators continue to progress so well! They are keeping us on our toes trying to keep up with them :). We lead the zone this last week in lessons taught. I am not one who focuses on numbers, but it just goes to show that this program, that has only been open for a few weeks, was just waiting with prepared people! What a blessing it is to be apart of it all!
Spiritual thought:This week a learned a huge lesson. I read a quote from Howard W. Hunter that particularly hit hard, "It is important to be appreciated, but focus on righteousness, not recognition; service not status. Visibility does not equate to value. Seek service over status." I must make a confession of sorts to better explain my thinking, so I was a tad disappointed when I found out I wasnt going to train. I have been told for so long, "Next transfer...get ready!" When I found out that I would not only not be training, but that I was getting a companion that was 5 weeks younger than me......it stung. I let myself believe it was because I had failed and wasn't a strong enough missionary. This quote hit hard because I realized that all of those thoughts that I let myself dwell on were simply thoughts that focus on status. I let the title of trainer tell me I had finally made it.....I finally would be a good enough missionary when I was trusted to train. But that is NOT at all what it means......my focus was off. I have been serving with only my might and strength, but I withheld my heart and mind a little bit. I have given my time, my energy, talents, and worked hard, but I realized I had no given myself....my whole self.
From the start, I have pushed myself. I have strived to be the best missionary in the mission.I have tried to change programs around and do things that have never been done. I have been blessed with the Holy Ghost to find and teach prepared people who accepted the gospel. I have measured my success level through the observation of the transformation in the lives of other people. And, I have seen a lot of it. But, until recently I have realized that I have not let that same power, affect me personally as deeply. I let my behaviors change to conform to the mission life and standards, but the nature of my character and desires had only slightly changed.
I have learned that change is the design of faith in Jesus Christ. It only happens if you unconditionally surrender your will to the Lord. But, I have corrected that this past week. I have shifted my focus slightly and the consequences have been enormous. I have given my will to the Lord. I have surrendered all my desires, dreams, and wishes to Him. I have let go in my heart of the things I want to do. I want to simply fulfill the Lords will. It's not that I have stopped caring about music, or boating, or my family and friends....its that I have stop dwelling on them. This doesn't mean I have become the crazy sister missionary and now the only course I see is going home and becoming a seminary teacher. I just have realized that by boxing up some of my plans, wishes, and wants, that I have found better plans, wishes, and wants. I needed to let go before I could find new.
In the end your heart and will is all you can give to the Lord that he doesn't already have. I have learned what it means to truly lose myself in the work. I am going to give everything I have these last few weeks so that I can end and say, "I have no regrets; i did my best." I don't want to be a great missionary anymore, I want to be a great servant. I know that as I continue to focus on service, my character will change.....my inner core.
Thank you all so much for you continued support and love! I don't know what I would do without! I know this week is going to be amazing! Its my birthday week, so how could it not be?? I miss you all tons!
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr Gasse 59/top/9
Hallo! I hope everyone enjoyed their Mothers Day! I know I sure did :). I absolutely LOVED being able to Skype the fambam yesterday! You all are looking goooood :). It didn't even feel weird this time, just natural. The weird part only came when it came to the goodbyes and instead of hearing "Cant wait until next time!", it was "See you at the Airport!" So weird. Enough with this going home soon talk though!
This week was a good one! We will start with Miga....it was all about Miga week! I explained last week that Miga is a member here in Vienna. Last week, I helped her start her mission papers and this week.....it was appointment time. Yep, it was doctor and dentist week with Miga! She is really nervous about her Germ ability tly so I went and helped her with translation. It has been such a incredible opportunity for me to play a role in helping another young girl decide to serve a mission. She has no support from anyone else and God has blessed me too much for letting me get to be the one she goes to. She has also been the best help with our investigators! She is always willing to be their to help with lessons and do anything for them. She is going to be an amazing missionary!!
This week we also had the opportunity to have a Mission Tour. This only happens once a year and it is when a General Authority comes to your mission to talk with you. This year the Alpine Mission had the pleasure of hearing from Elder Teixeira. He is incredible! He is one of the two General Authorities I met with when I was asked to switched to this mission. It was awesome to get to know some of the other missionaries too. I got sung to and received yummy chocolate because my birthday is next week. Everything was going good until they announced that they were going to have all the people finishing their missions soon come up and give their testimony. I heard them say that but it still didn't register until alas they read my name of those who needed to come to the front. AH! How is this happening all so fast?!? Lets just say....all my birthday chocolate was gone after this traumatic event.
Onto brighter topics, I got to see a symphony concert this week! Yep, you know I have been on a mission for a while when I am stoked out of my mind to go rock to some strings and trumpets :). It was outside in a historical part of the city. My entire zone got to go! It was on a beautiful summer night. Good music, good sunset, good company......nothing better than that!!
Work continues to go well! Man alive, its crazy to think we only started working in this city 6 weeks ago and we already have seen sooooo much happen! We are really busy right now, and I couldn't be happier with that!
The ward here loves me. I am not meaning this in a boastful way in the littlest......like I mean it in an almost embarrassing way. I walk into church and get 3-6 gifts a week. Breads, clothes, chocolate, jewelry....you name it. hahaha I have no clue what I did, but its working! People want to feed us all the time now. Its a problem......they all fight over it at church. Speaking of church by the way.....I love this wards meetings! They have really awesome teachers. We also just got a group of BYU students that are on a Study Abroad. It was fun to be able to translate for them. It's so much easier now that I have a much better handle on the language :).
Oyuka continues to do well and is looking forward to her baptism right before I go home. She said to me this week, "Can we please meet one more time than usual this week?" Missionary's dream question? I think so.
Spiritual Thought:One of the topics talked about this week in Mission tour was Patience. The word patience in latin turns into Pacientia. When you break that word down, Paci means peace and Entia means being or to be.....therefor the word patience means to be in peace. How cool is that?! Sorry its short today but just food for thought :). Follow the peace in your life. When we find the peace, we will find God also.
This coming week we have some fun things planned! We have Zone training meeting, service project, volleyball, and we get to eat at Sister Martinz (She served with me in Berlin) house for lunch this sunday!! Cant wait!! I hope you all have a fantastic week! I miss you tons and wish the best for you! KEEP THE FAITH!!!!!!!!!!!
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr Gasse 59/Top/9
Wien 9 A-1170
Well this week started out with 2 companions and ended with a brand new Asian companion! Can't get much crazier than that right? ;). This week has been nothing short of a blast! I LOVE the other sisters that I live with and being able to serve with them for a week was sheer fun! I will not waste anymore time, lets get into it!
Last monday was a great P day. With all 3 of us being athletic, we rallied up the elders and played basketball, soccer, and volleyball all in one day! Whooo, it was a blast!
With me serving with two english speaking sisters, it allowed me to see a lot of people that I have found and taught but had to pass over to the english program because they spoke better english than german. So I got to see Ana again! I have written a lot about Ana but she is so awesome! And because of exchanges and everything I have gotten to be present on 5 of the 6 times they have met with Ana. Ana was someone we found my second day here. She has made so much progress and this week we got to teach her all about the word of wisdom as she continues to prepare for her baptism in a few weeks! I love getting to see Ana!
Saba also continues to progress! She is from Iran but was never Muslim. She is here in Austria only for a few more months and then she will move to California to go to school. She has already made me promise that when she comes to Utah that we can go to Temple Square......hurt me ;).
Something amazing happened this week with one of our German investigators. Her name is Oyuka. We have been meeting with her for just a few weeks now. She is 20 years old and comes from Mongolia. Well we had a stellar lesson this week, and she agreed to be baptized!!!! July 6th is the day! Just 3 weeks before I come home and I couldn't be happier :). She has had nearly all the lessons and comes to church every week! She is so awesome and I have loved watching her change right in front of me. She has changed in every way. At first she came to church, in really well the only word that I can really say is, skanky clothing.....and now she is wearing the cutest modest dresses. Ah the gospel really does CHANGE people.
Our work with less actives continues to be awesome! They are all doing SO well. We have seen sooo many miracles with them. Lida, has really struggled in the past with commandments, but she promised us that she would give us the month of may where she would live every single one of them, come to church every week, and meet with us twice a week.....so far so good! I promised her that she would feel happier and more peaceful about her life.....she said she would take my challange and give me 30days haha.
I am really starting to make awesome connections with the members here too! They are incredible! One is Miga. She is 24 and from Mongolia. She is my closest member friend here :)....I always gotta have one! She hangs out with me every Pday and is the best joint teach ever! She has been battling with the decision to go on a mission and she has a very similar story to mine....we talk about it every day haha. After much debate, she finally started her mission papers yesterday :))))))!!! I was soooo stoked for her! I hope she gets called to salt lake so i can see more of her haha.
This week has been fun with lots of sports, cutting my roommates hair, waffle nights at the institute, and some awesome eating appointments! Every day I love the sisters I live with more and more. SIster Drury and Woods are the biggest blessings!
A little more about my new comp: Her name is sister lin. She comes from Taiwan. She speaks a little english and a little german......which makes communication a little challenging. She LOVES dogs and she loves to chase them. Yes, she chases them. She loves eggs. I made her this pesto pasta dish with veggies and sure enough she put some eggs on it haha. Eggs go on everything. She is not what I pictured at all. I was expecting this tiny 5 foot tall companion. Nope, she is more sumo wrestler type and could break me with her pinky. She is super nice and loves to smile at everyone. She has been such a help to the work here already. I am excited to get more time with her!
Spiritual Thought: Well I am stealing this quote from my sister, but its just too good not to. This is from Gordon B. Hinkley, "It isn't as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don't worry. I say that to myself every morning. It all works out in the end. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers.”
Thanks for all the love and support! I miss you all! This week is exciting we have a general authority coming to our mission, we are going to have 6 investigators at church, and we are COMPLETELY BOOKED OUT!!! Yes, you read that right....we have only been here for 4 weeks, but we don't even have a minute to spare this week, just straight appointments. Can I get a boo yeah grandma for miracles?!?!?! KEEP THE FAITH!
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr Gasse 59/Top/9
Wien 9 A-1770
Just when I thought everything was getting a little more routine......BAM a crazzzyyyyy week hit! As I stated last week, transfer calls were on Saturday, however things involving transfers got crazy with out a call.......Lets just dive into it.
So....my companion has been REALLY struggling. It was apparent from the first day I was with her. But, I have had a lot of companions that have struggled and so I just didn't think anything abnormal about it. Things for her emotionally just progressively became worse. It reached a point where she got emergency transferred so she could receive some professional help. Emergency transfers are rare and avoided at all costs. It was a stressful and exhausting week to have all of this happen.
I am not going to lie, its been a tad difficult. After all, this is my first transfer in this mission and to already have this happen is......frustrating and exhausting. I don't blame my companion, she is trying her absolute best, but there are some things that she just needs help with. It has just left me a little beaten down. Nothing I can't get out of though.
I am currently serving with two companions. They are the other two girls I live with. Sister Drury and Sister Woods are the greatest! I dont know what I would have done this transfer if it weren't for them! They have been so supportive and helpful throughout us trying to help my companion. Plus we have A LOT of fun together......that is a big necessity to fight off the stress. They are the english sisters and returning to english lessons has been another tender mercy from the Lord. It just is.....sooooo much easier and fulfilling to be able to communicate all that is in your heart.
But, enough with that.....lets go through some things in my week!
I got to do a 3 day exchange with Sister Drury this week. Seriously, this girl and me will be good friends for a long time. She is one that I know will play a big role in my life for some reason. She already has through the craziness of the last 4 weeks here in Vienna and I know it will continue after the mission.
On our tausch I got to see Ana again! Ana was a girl that I was able to find and teach a few lessons to when I first got to Vienna. I wrote about her a few emails ago. I sadly had to pass her off to the english sisters though. However, my exchange with Drury allowed me to see her and.......drum roll......teach her the Law of Chastity! Its a personal fav. She hugged me so hard when I saw her my eyeballs almost popped out. She is incredible and is getting baptized in a month!! WOOT WOOT! So glad that I got to be apart of her journey. We also got some amazing Indian and Filipino food......man alive I love international wards!
Another miracle that happened comes in the form of Saba. Saba is from Iran and is 24 years old. She is here waiting for her visa to come in from the US so she can study in California. I teach her english, but this past week I very slyly started teaching with gospel principles. She ate it up. On Tuesday and Thursday we covered everything from prayer, temples, and plan of salvation! She is incredible!! She also came to an institute activity and to volleyball (more on that later!). She just keeps saying every time we meet that it is the best day of her life. She says that I am light and that everything I say is like a light......I tried to explain that light is the spirit :).
Saturday brought Volleyball! I LOVE my new ward if for this reason alone! They play volleyball every Saturday morning through the summer.......HEAVEN. I have waited too long for this. It was a blast! They want us to bring investigators too, so Saba came along.....it was perfect and the ward did awesome with her!
A few big things happened while I was on exchanges........
First, I got a dreaded phone call from the office......they told me they purchased my plane ticket home!! AHHHH!!!!!!! It was awful. JULY 26th! Going home is that thing that I know is coming up but I don't like to think about it. But when the office calls and says that....it makes it all too real. Then, I saw both my parents cars that same day......i have never seen either of their cars my ENTIRE mission.....and both in the same day.....within 5 minutes of eachother........10 minutes after the call.........RUDE.
Next........the decision. THE decision that has frankly been eating me up like no other. That is as to what University I will attend next fall. I did not with everything in me want to go to the Y. I wanted to return to my beloved U and continue in the path that was great before I left. But.....and this is a big but.....Heavenly Father saw something else for and has been trying to get that through my thick head for probably too long. Well the message came loud and clear during a talk with Sister Drury......yes......i......will.......be.........going.....to......the........(can i do it??).......Y!! AHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I typed it. Its out. I want to die, but I know its right. The peace that accompanied the decision was undeniable. Logically it makes no sense to go there.....It puts me so behind, but.....its right and I know the Lord will take care of everything else. Am I scared to pursue a different major? yes. Am I scared to leave my friends? Undoubtedly. Am I scared of Provo? Sheer TERROR. But peace is there somehow. God always takes care of me when I trust him......so here I go!!!
Also my new companion comes Thursday! Her name is Sister Lin. Yep sister lin and sister linford.........sick joke. She comes right from Taiwan! She has been out on her mission for a while, so we are ready to tear up the city without any hold ups. I am excited!
Spiritual Thought: For this week, I just want to leave a scripture that has brought me a lot of peace this last week. It is found in Romans chapter 4,
20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
I love you all and wish you the best!! More to come next week!! KEEP THE FAITH!!!!!!!!!!!
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr Gasse 59/Top/9
Wien 9 A-1770
Hey heyyyy! Things are really started to warm up around here! Whoo, this Vienna weather has been jump-started right into summer :). I'm loving it. Every day I am here things just get better and better. I got the city down now and my German is finally up to par! It's a lot of work opening a new program, but it is a blast at the same time! Transfer calls are this week, and I am pretty certain I will get to stay in this beautiful city......I will be so sad if the verdict is contrary ;(.
I have been getting a lot of questions about my companion and the sisters I live with, so I will expound upon that! My companion is Sister Armstrong. She is 26 and has lived in Arizona and Washington for most of her life. She graduated in linguistics from BYU a few years ago. I think I can confidently say she is the most opposite person from me that I have ever met. haha, like really though. The only thing that we have been able to find in common the last 3.5weeks together is foods. Other than our taste buds, we got nothing. She is a woman of few words and doesn't like social situations. But, that doesn't mean we don't get along. Every companionship is completely different. Its fitting as every companion is different.
As for the sisters I live with......I couldn't ask for better roomies. I love those girls a ton. Both are definitely people I will hang out with after the mission. Sister Drury and I have lots in common, almost to a freaky point. She is from Idaho and ran track at BYU. Sister Woods is from Springville, Utah. She is a fun loving ball of energy with a kick of granola in her. She is the only other fellow U of U attender I have found on my mission, woot woot! These girls make every morning and night just straight laughs. They are another reason I really would love to be able to stay in Vienna.
This week we continued to work a lot with the less actives in our ward. They need all the help and attention they can get right now! I told a little bit about Lida last week. She is definitely someone I feel I came here specifically for. We have met with her 3 times this week and have been getting through some major obstacles with her. She always gives me the biggest hugs and calls me her daughter. She is great :) just a little confused is all, but we are working on that!
We also have had a really neat situation with a muslim man. He is seriously incredible. We have to be VERY careful we how we approach teaching muslims because often times it creates a life or death situation for them. We have to make sure they have no plans on returning to their country along with a long list of other requirements. But......shahjahn has met every darn requirement. He has accepted everything we have taught him with amazement. It is so interesting teaching someone that has no knowledge of christianity. Its not my first time that I have run into this, but it is the first time that it has continued to the level its at with him. It is a test to us as his teachers to really be able to go as simple as we can and build from there. We met with him 4 times last week and have another appointment with him tonight. He is so prepared!!
This week I had a exchange with sister Drury (funniest day of my mission), interviews with our mission president, and stake conference with a member of the 70s. Craziness I say! It was an awesome week though! I love my new mission president and his wife! They are the sweetest people! Stake conference was amazing too! President Richards, who handled my mission reassignment, spoke. He came right up to me and made sure I was liking my new mission. I assured him everything was amazing here :). My exchange with sister Drury was straight laughs.......seriously. We had the craziest experiences ever, and even rode on a TRACTOR. Yep, I thought for sure I was in Idaho for a second or something. It was hilarious. We actually have another exchange together for 2 days this week, I will give more reports on that soon!
We have had some fun appointments at members houses just trying to get to know everyone! They have all been so nice to us and are sure to tell us how they love the sisters are here! We love it too! Last monday we did the prettiest hike with one of our members from Mongolia. We hiked up to a look out of the city....I will send pics it was soooo gorgeous! I LOVE VIENNA!!!
Austria is amazing. The people are great! The only thing that is better in Germany are the prices......everything is so darn expensive here!! Darn it! Even just sending a letter cost nearly 3 dollars......so sorry if letters don't come as frequent now haha. We definitely have to be much more careful here to make sure our dollars stretch to cover everything.
Spiritual Thought:So I stole this from stake conference :)......Even a small piece of straw when thrown in the air, can tell us the direction of the wind. As does the little things in our life can tell us which direction our heart is turned. Little things such as scripture reading, prayer, or honesty add up to the direction our heart faces. Be aware of the little breezes or events in our life that throw the straw just a little bit. We all need to throw our straw up in the air and see if we need to re correct our path.
Thanks for all the love and support! I miss you like crazy! Transfer calls this week.........:)
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr Gasse 59 Top 9
Wien 9 A-1170
Still is so weird to say that, but I love the sound of it :). This has been an awesome week here. Its not that something grand or earth shaking happened, but it was the collection of so many perfect moments. I can honestly say I have never loved my mission more. That doesn't mean this is the easiest I have had it, because opening a city is extremely tiring and stressful. But, it is also is the gateway to witness sooo many miracles. It is amazing here......simply amazing!
I must admit, my least favorite part of missionary work was something we call street contacting. That is where you just go out on the street or in a park and try and talk to people and make appointments to meet with them. I think the largest reason why I wasn't the largest fan, was due to my frustrations with the language. Along with that, I just freaking love teaching! haha, so if I was in a lesson, I was the most happy. However, I LOVE talking to people here! I seriously have the hugest grin on my face the whole darn day! They are so nice!! Vienna is known in this mission has being the place with the meanest people....but this mission doesn't know how good they have it, haha. I think if they took a trip up to Berlin they would be horrified haha. We have had some incredible lessons this week right smack on the streets of Vienna! I love it! We are meeting some incredible people and I can't wait for this coming week where we get to meet them in their apartments and teach them more!
We have also been doing a lot of less active member work this past week. This ward needs it!! We have seen some amazing success with that. I have grown the strongest testimony here in Vienna of just how important it is to never give up on people. We have been working with a lady named Lida. She was baptized over 20 years ago and hasn't been to church in about 15 years. Some would definitely count her as a lost cause. We have been working with her, and low and behold, the woman showed up to church on sunday!! The first time IN 15 YEARS! Oh my heart just melted when I saw her. We are particularly close and she just linked arms with me and wouldn't leave my side the entire day. She cried through the entire sacrament meeting and said that she felt the peace again.
We also had a really neat experience with another lady that is a less active named Nina. It was last Saturday and we were headed to a district finding day. I had no idea why, but the whole morning I just didn't feel good about going, but its not really something you choose whether you go or not. Well the feeling persisted as the time to go drew nearer. I said something to my companion and she said that she felt a little funny about it too but didn't know why. We knelt down and prayed together in efforts to gain more direction. Very quickly I got the impression we needed to go by Nina's and we needed to be there at 5pm. It was quite strange because I had only seen Ninas name on a list of members earlier that day, but I remember it stuck out to me for some reason. I knew what I had to do. Hesitantly I called my new district leader and explained to him we wouldn't be joining them anymore. We went to Ninas apartment instead. We rung the door bell.......and nothing. I was so disappointed because the answer to visit her was so strong. As my companion turned around to leave, I said a prayer and pushed the button again. After 2 minutes of me staring at the door bell, and my companion staring at me with a confused look......she answered :). She invited us right in and said that we were the angels she prayed for. It was fantastic to talk with her and learn her life.
Both these woman, along with others, we meet with regularly now. They had already made the decision to be baptized but got lost in their path. The spirit is so insanely strong in lessons with these people. Revelation and inspiration on what to say to them is SO INSANELY POWERFUL! The words are never my own, but the are said in a bold package wrapped in love that hits them straight to the heart.
We finally got to meet our ward yesterday for the first time at church! It is definitely a smaller ward that I had pictured in my mind. They are really nice though. Lots of old people, and a LOT of people on the ward list that weren't there....meaning LOTS of Less actives. Everyone was coming up to us telling us how excited they were for sisters. We even got clothes from a member haha. She wanted us to get a reallllll good welcome in to the ward :). They are so cute to us.
The city is feeling more and more at home every day. I hardly even look at a map anymore, it is all just ingraining itself into my mind. The hope is that I will get to finish out my mission here.....what a dream that would be!
Spiritual Thought: As I reflect on the life of Jesus Christ, particularly at the point of greatest trial for him, I am reminded by a familiar phrase he expressed, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" I do not want to focus on the phrase it self or what he was feeling at the time, I want to focus on what he did in this difficult time. HE PRAYED.
In my life I have learned that sometimes we don't receive answers to prayer because the Lords knows we are not ready when He does answer, it is often "here a litter, and there a little" because that is all that we can bear, or all that I am willing to do at the time. Too often we pray to have patience, but we want it right now!
We may not know when or how the Lords answers will be given, but in His time and His way, I KNOW, His answers will come. Let us not give up on the Lord, His blessing are eternal, not temporary.
He knows our sacrifices and our sorrows. He hears your prayers. His peace and rest will be yours as you continue to wait upon him in faith. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint." Let us wait upon Him by pressing forward in faith, that we may say in our prayers, "Thy will be done".
I have gained the strongest testimony here, that nothing happens to you without a purpose.......everything happens to perfect us. Heavenly Father loves us, that is something I know for certain. Talk with him. Listen to him. Grow with him.
Thanks for all the love and support!! I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful spring that has finally come! I miss you all and pray for you every day! I wish everyone luck in school, work, and life! KEEP THE FAITH!
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayrgasse 59 Top 9
A-1170 Wien 9