Monday, June 24, 2013

Favorite thing in the world? check

      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
-Sister Linford
 
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Jessica Linford
Hormayr gasse 59/top/9
Wien 1170
Austria

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bargain shopper

      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 M√∂rwalds 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
Wien A-1170
Austria

Monday, June 10, 2013

Schnitzel Zeit!

      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!!!!
Sister Linford

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

Monday, June 3, 2013

Connected, Changed, Ready, and Fresh

Hello hello!
      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!!!!!!!!!
Sister linford

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