Friday, November 25, 2016

The tender mercies of the Lord

When writing a paper, it is common to follow a format of an introductory paragraph, the body, and a concluding paragraph. The introduction includes a thesis statement and sometimes a mini-outline for the paper. A thesis statement is the sentence that states the main idea of a writing assignment and helps control the ideas within the paper. It is not merely a topic. But rather, often reflects an opinion or judgement that a writer has made about a reading or personal experience.

As I have been studying from the Book of Mormon lately, a new theme has stood out to me, which seems to be comparable to the format of a paper. 

Introduction and thesis statement - 1st Nephi 1:20 “But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the TENDER MERCIES of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”

Nephi in a way sets up a “thesis statement” for the rest of the Book of Mormon. Whenever I read that verse, I think of the purpose of the Book of Mormon - to show how merciful the Lord has been to his children. 

The “body paragraphs” of the Book of Mormon seem to simply portray that truth. One of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon is Alma 26, when Ammon glories in the Lord. 

Alma 26:37 “God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea he numbereth his people, and his bowels of MERCY are over all the earth. Now, this is my joy, my great thanksgiving.” 

When Moroni is finishing up his father’s record, before he invites us to read, pray and ask if this record is true, he reminds us in verse three, of the original "thesis statement" of the Book of Mormon. 

Moroni 10:3 “I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how MERCIFUL the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things.” 

My studying of the Book of Mormon recently has shifted to specifically looking for the Lord's tender mercies. This has opened my eyes more to the tender mercies in my life - or how I see the Lord’s hand in my life. 

Often times, it is easy to overlook these “tender mercies” and say it was by coincidence or by chance. But I truly do believe and find power in Elder Bednar’s words that “the Lord’s tender mercies do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence.” We should not overlook or underestimate the tender mercies. I think the Lord is more aware and more involved in our lives than we know or can comprehend. 

A tender mercy in my life this past week was on Saturday. I work in the temple as an ordinance worker in the morning. This past Saturday, before heading into the temple, around 5:00 in the morning I received a few phone calls from the members in Slovenia, telling me that my dear friend Urša Grahek had passed away. She has been battling with the physical pains of mortality for quite some time, so I know she is happy and relieved from her limitations. Nonetheless, still heartbreaking. The first part of my schedule was spent in initiatories. The patron that first walked in, happened to be holding 5 families names, all from Croatia, and I was able to perform the ordinances for this patron. This was the first time I have ever seen a Croatian name in the temple. This could be considered just a coincidence, but I find it a tender mercy. The simple promises and words found in the initiatory ordinances meant much more to me, as I thought of Urša, her family, and her future posterity. All of those blessings are appertaining through her faithfulness, and she is one of the most faithful women I know. I know that she again has a healthy body, and will continue to find true joy. 

This week being the week of Thansksgiving, I'm striving to let my prayers be more filled of gratitude to the Lord, and his tender mercies. They are truly all around us, if we will "lift up our eyes!"

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Often times on my mission, I received an email from someone who I truly love and respect, reminding me to CARE FOR THE ONE. 

"My dear Katie, how can you care for the one? How are you lifting those around you? How can you learn from and teach the members? How can you inspire the missionaries? How can you impact the members and your companions? Love and support ALL of those you come in contact with. Smile and say hello first. Care for the one. Search for the one. Testify to the one." Now that I have been home for 6 months, I am realizing that advice is still so prevalent right now. WE ARE ALL HERE TO HELP EACH OTHER HOME. TO HELP EACH OTHER COME CLOSER TO CHRIST. 

Journal entry from my mission journal on April 2nd, 2016 - "Tonight we went contacting. My companion and I were speaking with this kind lady, who was not interested in learning more, but was open and seeking our advice. As we sat, patiently listening, the spirit spoke to me, as I realized this was a slightly similar experience to something I experienced the prior year. My heart started to burn. I felt my Savior's arms around me. The spirit spoke to me clearly and lovingly, "Katie.. this is why you experience this trial. This is why you overcame. This is why you learned. This is why I had you become. I need you to now minister to the one. I need you to TESTIFY now." Tears filled my eyes as I looked as this distraught lady, and I opened my mouth and shared a similar experience. With the spirit burning in my heart, I testified to her of God's perfect plan. The spirit then spoke to me as I was testifying, that what I was saying was true. These are my favorite moments." 

If there is anything I know, it is that Heavenly Father puts people in our lives so that we can learn from each other. There have been countless times throughout my life where I am speaking with someone - perhaps as a missionary, during companionship study, or speaking with a member at church, or in the middle of a lesson, or even sitting on my bed having late night chats with a roommate, or speaking with a sibling, or writing an email to a friend - when the spirit speaks to me and says "TESTIFY. You went through that experience, so that you now can minister to my child, as a disciple and witness of Christ now." 

Why is it this way? It is this way because we are all here to help each other home. Yes, we all have the call and mandate to COME UNTO CHRIST, but I believe that it is just as important to bring others to Christ. And in so doing, we are brought closer to Christ ourselves, in the process.  

President Uchtdorf - "When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched, reaching out to comfort, heal, bless, and love. And He always talked with, never down to, people. He loved the humble and the meek and walked among them, ministering to them and offering hope and salvation. That is what He did during His mortal life; it is what He would be doing if He were living among us today; and it is what we should be doing as His disciples and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. As we emulate His perfect example, our hands can become His hands; our eyes,His eyes; our heart, His heart." 

Elder Joseph B. Worthlin - “We are to be our brother’s keeper. We cannot neglect this commission given   by our Savior. We must be concerned for the one.”

I am eternally grateful to the people who Heavenly Father has put in my life, who have brought me closer to Christ. Who inspire me to be better. Who encourage me to change. Who love me for who I am. I am thankful for the people who remind me to do the same to others. These are the people who make my life SO SWEET. 


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ljubljana, Slovenia: My Waters of Mormon!

Pozdravljeni moja družina! 

We have had the BEST week ever.... However, I will tell you all about it in person SOOOOOOON :) 

Wellllllllll  this email will probably be very long so brace yourselves. I just never want to forget how I feel right now. My heart is very full today and this week, and I am not quite sure how to express how I feel. I have loved my mission - it has meant absolutely everything to me.

I think one of the most powerful lessons I have learned on my mission is that Christ is constantly inviting us. He is inviting us to come unto him, to repent, to change, to have hope, to be happy - he is constantly there with open arms. He invites us to COME UNTO HIM AND BE PERFECTED IN HIM. I have also learned that the closer we come to Christ, the more we love him and the more we want to be like him. And the closer I have drawn to my Savior throughout my life, the more I have grown and the more I want to share the knowledge of him with people around me. 

I remember in the MTC, they asked us to ponder about what is the greatest miracle of all time.. I remember thinking Moses and how he actually made an ocean split, and then they walked through it! Or how he turned a river into blood, and all of the other amazing miracles.. But throughout my mission, I have come to see and realize an ever greater miracle - the miracle of change. The miracle of the effects of Christ's Atonement. I love in the bible that Christ calls out to fishermen and simply says, "Follow me." And then these fishermen turn into powerful, unwavering disciples of Christ. Or in the Book of Mormon, the "vilest sinners" become powerful missionaries after a process of change and conversion. Whether it is witnessing a change in myself and my desires, or when you finally see the light of Christ just "click on" in an investigator, or a simple contact on the street as you see them eventually open up and their hearts soften as we speak of Christ - the gospel of Jesus Christ is constantly is a formula inviting us to come unto Christ and be changed. 

I know that it is only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that our weaknesses can become strengths - and only through him, can our natures be changed. I know that every challenge we face, every bad thing that happens, every sadness happens for one purpose - to give us the opportunity to respond by APPLYING the teachings of Christ - and as we do so, we are changed to become more like him. 

I have learned that the happiest we will be is when we completely, humbly, surrender to our Heavenly Father and his will. At the beginning of my mission, I really had such great desires that I would be an incredible missionary, that I would learn Slovene really well, that I would be the missionary Heavenly Father wanted me to be, that I would find people and baptize them, that I would be a hardworking missionary - which those things are all great things.. but they all were focused on ME. I will never forget the experience I had about 9 months out when I finally realized that this is not about me.. although I had great desires, I needed to forget myself. It is about doing Heavenly Father's will completely. I learned that Heavenly Father could not work with me, until I stopped trying to do it my way, and truly asked him what HE wanted me to do. When we turn to God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength - then can we be effective disciples of Christ. 

God has a perfect plan - and I am so thankful for that. He sends us to the exact missions, where we experience what we need for progression. There have been countless times on my mission, when I am talking with someone on the street, or teaching a lesson, or chatting with my companions during studies, when the Holy Ghost speaks to me and says, "This is why you are here. This is why you experienced that.. this is why I put you on this persons path." Because of these experiences, I will forever trust in him and his plan. I have been reminding myself about that lately, as something I love so dearly, and something that means so much to me is coming to an end - I remind myself that God does have a perfect plan, and because of that I will trust in Him. I do know that the greatest happiness awaits us, as we do what he desires - and because of that I go forward with faith! 

I will miss the million of bakeries everywhere, I will miss the grandmas getting upset at us for sitting on a cold bench and them claiming I will never be able to have babies now, or when they get upset because we are not wearing tights, I will miss the classic 'ne hvala' finger, or the Balkan arm rub, I will miss the long cold grey-sky winters, I will miss the pigeons everywhere, I will miss the long green hills and rivers, I will miss the dark clothing, and I think I will even miss constantly smelling like smoke maybe ;) I will miss speaking the Slovene language, which Heavenly Father has taught me countless lessons through speaking this language. I love this language so much, because I love the people who speak it. I know that the thing I will miss the most are these people. I love how they are so blunt and brutally honest, I love how you say "good day" to them on the street and it startles them that someone is talking to them, I love that health is one of the things most important to them, and I love that they love their countries. These people are so rich in their history, they cling on to it. They so badly want to hold on to their traditions, and they desire and search for stability. They want something they can trust in, and find hope in.. and I know that the stability they are searching for will come from the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love these Balkan people with my whole heart and they have taught me more than I think I could have ever taught them. 

I love in the Book of Mormon that they say the "waters of Mormon" was such a special place to the people Alma taught, because that was where they came to the knowledge or their Savior. Slovenia will forever be a sacred place to me because this is where I have truly come to know Christ.. and to recognize his voice. It is where I came to really learn the importance of not just knowing the gospel, but living the gospel. It is where I developed the desire to constantly progress and improve. It is where I came to know the power of the restoration.. and what it means in my life. It is where I came to understand how important it is that Joseph Smith was a prophet, or the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.. or the power of true sincere prayer - actual communication with our Heavenly Father. I know that everything I have testified for the last year and a half, is true.. and I am grateful to live now what I have testified of.

To see people change their lives completely, to love people from another place and culture with your whole heart, is a testimony to me that God and his son, Jesus Christ live. And they simply invite us to come unto them. I am so so thankful for these experiences and relationships, and will cherish them for the rest of my life. I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father and I pray I will be able to show him my eternal gratitude by the way I live my life... converted to his gospel. Even though we don't go on missions for ourselves, Heavenly Father stills makes sure we receive the most.. and because of that I forever want to please him.

Alma 26:16 "Let us glory in the Lord, we will rejoice for our joy is full, yea we will praise our God forever. Behold who can glory too much in the Lord? Who can say too much of his great power, his mercy, and his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."

I love you all so much. Thank you for your prayers and love.. I have felt them every day of my mission. I am absolutely heartbroken right now, yet so grateful. Yet also sooooo happy. This is TRUE JOY.  I simply feel so thankful to my Heavenly Father, my Savior, my amazing family, these amazing people here - the list goes on and on. WELL I LOVE YOU GUYS I cannot wait to see you soon.  

Z ljubeznijo, hvaležnostjo, in srečo v mojem srcu -
Sestra Nydegger 

also.. I have a million pictures and videos so I will try to send them all 

European bathrooms FYI

The Slovenian missionaries have worked REALLY hard this month to put on a big concert - there is a lot of musical talent in our zone right now... And it was a GREAT success. We had 90 people show up in our little chapel!!!!!!!!!! It was great cause I also got to say goodbye to so many people who I love.. 
The Johnsons - senior couple 


The Slovenian zone - I feel so blessed to have served along side with so many incredible missionaries!!! 

President and Sister Grant ... two of the BEST people I know. I feel like I was called to this mission merely for the fact that I could learn from these people.. 

The most AMAZING sisters!!!!!!! 

District president of Slovenia - Elvi 

My best friend SESTRA DUFFY - the greatest comp I could ask for! 

LAST DAY - Last time out contacting in Slovenia as a missionary :( So bittersweet... 

the view of our walk home...... this is my WATERS OF MORMON.... Slovenia will forever be a sacred place for me... I am so so thankful... 

The departing missionaries.. only sisters! 

SHE'S HOME!!!!! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Srecna veliko noc!

Lep pozdrav!

JOE GOT HIS MISSION CALL!!!!!??!!?! AHHHH CONGRATS TO SOON TO BE ELDER NYDEGGER!!!!! I am so excited for you Joe.. Brazil will be such an incredible mission - I have to admit, I am a little envious of the shoes you are in.. The adventures that are ahead of you the next few years are life-changing, and I would be lying if I said that I was not wishing I could be in that position again! After I heard on Wednesday, that you received your call, I pulled out my call letter.. and re-read those words which are so sacred and special to me. I love in the last paragraph when it says, "greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among his children." I know that is true with my whole heart.. Many times when I receive blessings I am constantly told that the happiest I will ever be, is when I am serving those around me - and I know it is true - I have felt it. And I love that it is a LABOR OF LOVE. It all revolves around the fact that Heavenly Father is our loving father, and as missionaries we truly do proclaim that love; through bringing someone to the knowledge of a Savior, of repentance, of relief, of HOPE - and it truly is the happiest I have ever been. 

Well we had a great week!! I had exchanges in Celje - which was so great and also so sad, but I am grateful that I was able to come and say goodbye to my dear friends there. I sure love these people with my whole heart! And I had the amazing experience to work with Sestra Arsenjuk. She is from Slovenija and is currently doing a mini mission in hopes that maybe she will go on her own mission in a few years - and I LOVED WORKING WITH HER!!!!! It was so fun to have a native companion for a few days.. I learned so much from her example.. It was incredible to see her being a missionary in her homeland.. boldly testifying to her peers in her native language - she taught me much about being brave. 

This week I feel like I was reminded once again about how this is THE LORD'S work - he is in charge. Sister Arsenjuk and I made the goal to find one new really sincere investigator during our time together.. And for the three days we were together, that is basically all we did! We walked around and talked to EVERYONE we could. Well the night before our exchange was over, we were walking home. We knew we tried our best, and found peace in not reaching our goal because we did everything we could. We walked home, and we turned into our alley way right where our door is. Right when we turned I heard someone yelling from behind "excuse me, excuse me!! Are you the people from America who talk to people about Christ?" I laughed and told him yes, but I actually had a slovenjka as a companion! We did some small chat and he eventually told us that he wanted to know where the thought of God existing all began. We taught him for a few minutes on the street, and then exchanged numbers and he is going to meet with the Celje Sisters again this week. It was such a simple reminder to me, that although we had tried all day to find a new investigator, Heavenly Father ended up bringing someone into our paths - without us really doing anything. HE IS AT THE HELM OF THIS WORK. 

When we were setting goals for March about a month ago, as a zone we made a goal for 1-2 baptisms, even though none of us really had anyone even close for baptism. We even did a fast with all of the members in Slovenia to somehow still baptize someone this month. At zone conference this week, we talked about how we did not achieve that goal and what we needed to do to try to achieve it next month.  . BUT ONCE AGAIN God is at the helm!!!!! During zone conference, the Maribor Elders received a text from someone asking to meet. And it turns out she is from Slovenia, but was living in Germany for the last little while.. where she met the missionaries there, investigated for 8 months, and passed her baptismal interview.. but in an emergency had to come back to Slovenia. And she called up the elders right away, asking if she could still be baptized here in Slovenia. They met with her and got in contact with the German missionaries, and she will be baptized this week in Maribor!!!!! It really shows that no matter what we do, Heavenly Father will provide a way - he is in charge, and we are just instruments in his hands.

Well, I am out of time and still have so many things I wish I could tell you but I will just end with an incredible scripture from Alma 26, which seems to describe how I have been feeling lately.. - "I cannot say at least the smallest part which I feel." So much gratitude.. and I am not quite sure how to express it. 

Church is true, the book is blueeeeeee!!!!
LOVE YOU all so so much. 
Sestra Nydegger 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Here comes the sun!

Zdravo! Thank you all so so much for emailing me - I cannot express how much your emails mean each and every week! I always am overwhelmed with the love and support I feel - I sure love you and am so grateful for you. 

We had a great week! The highlight of the week was on Saturday, FINALLY the sun came out!! After 4 long months of grey skies, and who knows how many days of snow and rain - the sun came through this week.. I am so grateful for sun and the energy and vibe it brings to people.. It is finally starting to feel like spring :)

Okay a few things that happened this week -

We had MLC on Monday and Tuesday in Zagreb.. We had to go with a bus, but thankfully the public transportation here is incredible.. and we somehow lucked out with the top of the double decker seats, right in the windshield - so we had a beautiful drive for 3 hours from Slovenia to Croatia.... MLC was wonderful - my favorite part was singing "called to serve". That song STILL just gets me so excited about missionary work every time I sing it - far and wide HIS LOVE proclaims - love truly is the motive behind missionary work. 

Our investigator I told you about last week, is doing well.. he is still meeting with us :) This week he finally opened up and told us that he believes about 99% of what our religion is. I asked him what was the 1%.. He said the fact that we believe someone atoned for our sins. It is such a strange thing, but he feels like it takes away our free agency to act. Because of this concern, Sister Duffy and I have been studying the atonement as much as possible in all of our free time. This past week, my mind reverted back to a journal entry I wrote about a year ago. I was wondering if there was a difference between having a relationship with Heavenly Father, and also a different relationship with Jesus Christ.. I decided that I wanted to strengthen a specific relationship with my Heavenly Father, but also a specific relationship with my Savior. It took some time, but it is something that I treasure so deeply now with much gratitude! My Heavenly Father is my loving father in Heaven.. and Christ is my older brother - I almost imagine it, someone who really sees on the same eye to eye level as me.. It is sometimes hard to completely understand the atonement.. But I do know, that because of our Savior, when we have feelings of darkness, guilt, loneliness, or sadness, HE can heal us. Through his atonement, our nature can be changed. Because of our Savior, who atoned for us, Heavenly Father sees us as glorious beings, who are capable of becoming. Christ is absolutely EVERYTHING to our gospel.. He is a living Savior, who invites us simply to come unto Him, and be transformed and born again. And as a missionary, we simply invite people to learn of Him. I love testifying of my Savior to people.. I had someone ask me if I knew what I was offering as a missionary.. I liked that question.. My answer changes from time to time, as my knowledge grows more about the gospel - but one that has stayed constant, is the offering of a SAVIOR. 

This week for district meeting, our district leader just ended up inviting us to share our testimonies for the lesson portion. This meant SO much to me.. It's funny because I testify all day, and I share my testimony almost every fast Sunday, but it was so different this time. I don't think I have shared my ENGLISH testimony in a setting like that for such a long time. And as I shared the simple truths I know from certain experiences, the spirit overcame me. I was reminded of how THANKFUL I am for my testimony. It means so much to me! My testimony means everything to me, and I am so thankful for times that I can share it with those around me - that is one of my favorite things about missionary work. 

Urška left for Ireland today, so I had to say 'bye' to her yesterday, which was really sad.. She bore the sweetest testimony in church yesterday.. She said her GREATEST desire in life now - after truly searching for her purpose for 10 years, is to become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ - she is such an incredible example to me of change.. I sure am grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from her. Next time I will see her, will be in JANUARY in SALT LAKE getting sealed!!!!!! 

Wellllll I feel like I tell you this a lot, but I figure I will tell you again just to make it clear - I AM SOOOOOOOOOOO HAPPY. I cannot ever express how much joy missionary work brings!! The joy that comes as you forget yourself in the service of others.. I AM SO THANKFUL FOR THIS TIME! And I really love the people here so so much... it just keeps growing every day. 

LOVE, vaša sestrica :)

My favorite snack...

Apartment view