Monday, April 29, 2013

Crazy Week!

      Hallo! 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!!!!!!!!!!! Sister Linford

Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr Gasse 59/Top/9
Wien 9 A-1770
Austria

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wien 1 District

Here is a picture of S. Linford at Presient Interviews with her new district.

Wien 1 District - Morrill, Niedens, Bartholomew, Janis, Strongs, Armstrong, Linford

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tractor Riding!

      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.........:)
sister linford

Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr Gasse 59 Top 9
Wien 9 A-1170
Austria

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Streets of Vienna!

Hello from Vienna!!

      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!
Sister Linford

Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayrgasse 59 Top 9
A-1170 Wien 9
Austria

Monday, April 8, 2013

First Week!

      Hey y'all! I am officially in Vienna loving it! Whoo, this city is alive and invigorating! This week has been so awesome finally getting back to a normal missionary life again. Hitting the pavement and talking to peeps is where it is at! haha. Lets dive into my new life in the Alpine German speaking mission shall we?
      Well last Monday I was still in Munich getting paperwork done, but I had the pleasure to finally meet my new mission president! President and Sister Miles hail from the city of Bountiful, Utah. They are the sweetest couple ever! They are so warm and loving. It was good to meet him and to hear more about their objective for this mission. I just felt at home the entire time I was there......this is exactly where I am meant to be!
      Tuesday, was a day of goodbyes and hellos. I have seen many of these on the course on my mission, but they never seem to get easier. I was LOVING my time with the two sisters in Munich. Sister Stowell and Allman........the good times never stopped with these two! Can't wait to hang out after the mish. Well after a 5 hour train ride Munich turned into VIenna. We were greeted by the elders in our new ward, as well as the english speaking sisters we live with. It is such a great city and I felt it from the second we arrived!
      The rest of this week has been crazy! My face has been buried in the map trying to get us around haha. It has been a fun adventure so far though! We have seem some pretty great miracles too! One of which was with a girl named Oyuka. She is from Mongolia. Her brother actually joined the church in Mongolia a few years ago. She is here as a student right now. We had a fantastic lesson with her and we have another scheduled for tuesday!
      Ana is another miracle. We were doing some doors and bam there she was! She said that she didn't speak any german but asked if we knew english. (This never ceases to excite me!) We ended up teaching her a whole lesson that day with the invite to come back the next day. We brought the english speaking sisters, as this is technically now their investigator. They asked me to teach the lesson though until the official hand off to them takes place. Oh how it was suchhhhhh an incredible lesson! Ana is from Romania and SO prepared. Her answers were all so excited and right out of the dreams of every missionary. Ana is now preparing to be baptized in just a few short weeks!!! BOO YEAH!!!
      We also been having some really neat success with some less active members. They are letting us in because we are sisters and they think its awesome that we have sisters in Vienna now. WHat ever works right!?! haha.
      Conference was also this weekend. With the time difference we only got to watch the first 3 sessions....but WOW!! Conference is better than christmas and your birthday combined for missionaries!! haha, but seriously! I am still on this amazing conference high! My heart ached as Pres. Monson shared a story of a man from Germany. That man was from my last area.......ah.......it hurt but in a good way. I miss Berlin terribly, but I know that it will forever be a place in my heart. And now, I get to add the country of Austria too!!
      My German has taken a leap in the right direction this week! WOw miracles are real! I am still not fluent by any means but I am completely communicating with people! HALLELUJAH!!!
      Spiritual THought: MAN alive i have been slacking! I had the best one for today too, but I have 2 minutes left is all :( So today just remember ALma 1:25 and remain "Steadfast in faith!"
Love you all!!
Sister Linford

Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayrgasse 59 Top 9
A-1170 Wien
Austria

Monday, April 1, 2013

Vienna :)

      Wowza, I still am trippin' out!! Life has been sheer craziness the last little bit and it continues! So much has happened that it makes the task of narrating it all to you very difficult!
      Lets start with last Tuesday, I was sitting smack dab in the heart of Berlin at Zone Conference. It was amazing. I got to see a lot of people that mean a lot to me. It was all for a reason. I got to see the Rostock Senior Sister who I have missed dearly. They are like my grandmas :). I got to see the sisters who have gotten me through it all. Plus everything was in English :). Ahhhh, I will never take for granted having the gospel in my mother tongue again!
      The craze started Tuesday night as I got a phone call at about 8pm. I looked at the number and it started with 801.......My heart sank. Its been quite a while since I have seen that number combination, but its one I cant forget. I quickly answered it with a sense of caution in my voice. The man on the other line introduced himself as someone from the mission department in Salt Lake. He said that he just wanted to make sure that this was in fact my phone number and then told me that my parents would be calling me shortly. My stomach tensed in that moment and I don't know if it has stopped even now. I waited......like stared at the phone,.... wouldn't go more than 3 steps away from it,.... basically camped out by that thing. One hour passed.....I was so anxious. Finally 2 hours and 15 minutes pass and the phone rings. I picked it up in the first ring and nearly yelled, "Hello?!!?" The still, very familiar voice of my mother was finally heard. The voice I had been imagining the entire 2 hours prior. It took everything in me not to just burst out in tears. She told me that with everything that had happened, I had been offered to either come home on an honorable release or I could get reassigned to another mission. With no hesitation in my voice I said that I had signed up for the whole thing, and that I would not be coming home early, but I did want a mission reassignment.
      That moment was a hard one. My heart is in Berlin......but, I knew this was the path I needed to take. I knew that my plan was to take place elsewhere. Phone calls were made until nearly 2 am that night with other sisters that were considering the same decision. It was shear craziness.....It didn't stop on Tuesday, Wednesday morning I got a call at 7:30 am from the area presidency asking me for what my final answer was.....I boldly stated, that I would be taking a mission reassignment. He responded positively and said that when ever my call was reassigned that I would be getting a call. He didn't really give me a time frame though. Although my mind was so weighed down with this craziness and was racing a million miles per hour, the show had to go on!
      There was an Easter fireside that we had been planning for an entire transfer that was on Wednesday night! It went SOOO well! The spirit was so strong. We also had sister Moon and sister Bohne and their companions come in to help us with musical numbers. It was fun being able to spend my last night in Eisenh├╝ttenstadt with them. Me and Moon just sat there and cried through the fireside. It wasn't even the fireside itself, it was that we both were leaving. We have been through so much together.....that girl means the world to me. I got to say good bye to the ward. I cried when I had to say goodbye to the most amazing members I have ever met, Ola and Ahmed. Ahmed gave me a blessing that brought more peace to me, that I think I have ever felt. I needed it. I needed the reassurance that this was all meant to happen. It said it was my plan the whole time.... many different times in my blessing and I truly believe that. (Side note: at 5:30pm just before the fireside I got the call that I had been waiting for......I have been reassigned to the Alpine German speaking mission!!!!)
      Thursday was a weird day because I had no idea when I would be leaving for my mission. I got a call from my new mission president President Miles, that morning, but not even he knew when I would arrive. I was just told some time that weekend. Well I started packing, but I didn't particularly feel rushed.....that was until I got the call at 11 that I needed to leave at 12! I started throwing everything in my suitcase in a frenzy. After 11 hours on a train, I arrived at the mission home in Munich Germany at 11pm. I was picked up by the AP's and 3 of the cutest sisters that made a banner saying. "Willkommen Sister Linford!!"
      The rest of my weekend has been getting things set up and waiting on paper work so I can go to my actual area of Vienna, Austria!! I am opening up a brand new program there!! Cant wait! I leave for Vienna tomorrow evening! I will be living in a 4 sisters apartment with the international branch sisters. I love 4 sisters apartments!! Plus, one of the sisters that I served with on exchange last summer is from Austria. She is now home and I am going to be serving in her ward!! I cant wait to see sister Martinz!!
      This has been the craziest week of my life. But, I know it is sooo meant to be! As I was on the train ride to Munich from Berlin, I got to pass through my first city of Dresden. As I stared out the window at the beautiful landscape memories flooded my mind. It was as if my entire mission flashed before my eyes on that train. The peace that accompanied it was ever present. I know that I am meant to be in Austria for the remain 3 months and 3 weeks of my mission. This entire experience has been such a spiritual one for me. I have felt my Savior so close to me through it all. I have felt him carry me when I just couldn't deal with it anymore.....he is always there. Always.
      I love and miss each one of you. I cant wait to share with you all how amazing Vienna is next week :)!! Keep the faith!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sister Linford

EW ADDRESS:
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayrgasse 59 Top 9
A-1170 Wien
Austria