Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Basil anyone?

      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
Wien A-1170

Monday, May 20, 2013

Float like a butterfly; sting like a bee!

Guten Tag!
      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!
Sister Linford

Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr Gasse 59/top/9
A-1170 Wien

Monday, May 13, 2013

Strings in the Sunset

      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!!!!!!!!!!!
Sister Linford

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

Monday, May 6, 2013


Hey Heyyyy!
      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!
Sister Linford

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