Monday, December 29, 2014

Celje, Slovenia: The best is yet to be!

Dear fam... It was so amazing to see your faces and talk with you this past week! It was a very wonderful Christmas present and I am grateful for you and your influences and examples. WELL.. this week was a week of the strangest weather here in Slovenia!!! The beginning of the week started off unusually warm.. I did not even need to wear my coat on Tuesday. And then there were the MOST beautiful sunsets... I love how the skies here in Slovenia are so long..

The next day it was SO WINDY.. I have never been in such fierce wind! We were visiting an inactive about 50 minutes away from Celje.. And as we were walking up the hills to get to her house, the wind was intensely blowing Sestra Cuthbert and me- which was a STRUGGLE but we ended up laughing and enjoying it!

And now it is snowing, snowing and snowing!!! Slovenia is so beautiful in the snow.. And it makes the cold a lot more enjoyable and endurable when there is pretty snow :) It also makes for good contacting, because people can always use extra help shoveling!

For Christmas Eve we went around and delivered little food baskets and caroled for the people in our branch. It took us almost 6 hours but was a lot of fun and helped us feel more of the Christmas spirit that comes from giving. We then got permission to stay out late and go to midnight mass!!! We were very tired but thought when again would we have the opportunity to go to midnight mass in Slovenia, so we said "Zakaj pa ne!!" and went. It was really hard to understand because it was mixed Slovene with singing and mumbling words.. but was a neat experience! We slept in Christmas morning until 8 and then went to the Lamberts for skyping and for breakfast.

The last few days have been busy with contacting and trying to find new people.. We are really trying to find ONE progressing investigator before this transfers is over. We have made new goals and are working really hard to find one. 

This man always listens to me!

Speaking of goals.. HAPPY 2015!!! New years has always been one of my favorite times because it is a time for a new start and to work on being better!! One thing PMG really focuses on for missionaries is the importance of setting goals. Goals are so important because they reflect the desires of our heart! And goals help us have a vision of what we want to accomplish. There is a quote in PMG that says "Through goals and plans, our hopes are transformed into action." Goals are an act of faith and through goals we can show God that we have faith for a brighter future!! I think one of the greatest messages of hope that we have is how we have a loving Heavenly Father who will help us according to our desires. In Alma 29:4 we read "For I know that the Lord granteth unto men according to their desire." When we have worthy desires and tasks that we want to accomplish, through the Lord we can accomplish them! We can reach that potential with the Lord's help!

A great example of this is in Ether chapter 6. This is when the people took barges across the ocean to get to the promised land. In verse 4, it says that the people prepared all the manner of food for themselves and their animals... And then commended themselves to the Lord. They had the desires and did their part, and then asked the Lord for help. Through their goals and faith, the Lord helped them. The Lord caused that there would be mighty winds that would help push them and blow them! And then when their barges would start to sink, the Lord would bring them back up to the surface. They prayed to God the whole time, and eventually made it to the Promised Land!! Because they had faith and asked for help along the way, the Lord helped them. He will grant us according to our righteous desires!!

So as we all make goals this week, we should ask the Lord for help to accomplish them. I know that he will help us. And remember that the future is bright!! Look forward and find joy in the journey. Find reasons to be happy!! Be kind to everyone around you. Smile and hold the door for someone! Apologize more.. Forgive someone who has harmed you.. Speak kinder about those around you. Laugh more and smile more! Express your gratitude and tell people you love them. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we have a bright future. God doesn't care nearly as much about our past and our mistakes as He does about where we are and who we are- and with His help, where we can go. That is the miracle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.. Through faith and repentance we can have a new start and become a little better- to ultimately become the person Christ wants us to be!

LOVE... Sestra Najdeger :)

Thanks for the Christmas pajamas mom!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Celje, Slovenia: Vesel Božič

Vesel Božič!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Christmas in Slovenia has been filled with lots of lights, live singers in town center each night, open markets on the streets, and a lot of people out and about.. PERFECT for missionary work :) I would say Celje is right beneath temple square on how many lights they put up.. It is BEAUTIFUL!!

This week I went on exchanges with Sestra Brown. She came down to Celje to work with me and we had a really good time together!! Sestra Brown is an awesome example to me. She is helping me figure out what "MY" way of missionary work is. She is a strong believer in making missionary work your own, according to your talents and strengths.We had a lot of success talking with people, when we took our strengths together! She helped me notice that I am not scared to go up to random people and just say 'hello', and try to get them to stop and talk with us. And I helped her realize that she is really good at coming up with things that cause people to ponder and think- which means they are more likely to talk with us for a few minutes! So I would go up to people and say, "Zdravo imam uprašanje za te!" And then I would look at Sestra Brown and she would ask a question. We were able to talk with a few people and we got one guy to talk with us for 10 minutes about Christ. We asked if we could meet with him again, and he said he didn't have time but that he was grateful for what we told him.

Exchanges with Sestra Brown

Our Christmas dinner with our branch was a success!! An interesting experience.. but it turned out great.. The power went out three different times and on the third time the church needed a new fuse - I spilled soup on a less active member.. Our program went well and the spirit was felt. We were very grateful for the members and everything they did to plan a fun Christmas Party.

Some members in Celje.  On the left is the newest convert last June.

Church is at the back of the alley.

ELDER HUGHES - I nearly started crying when I saw him!!!!!!!!!!!! Your mtc pals literally become your fam out here 

I am sure most of you have seen the "He is the Gift" video on That is something we have been sharing with a lot of our members here in Celje. This week I decided to study each morning a gift Christ has given me. I have studied a lot about love, eternal life, light, families, joys- and much more.. But one that has really meant a lot to me, is the gift of peace. In John 14:27, it reads "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  So many Christmas hymns say the phrase "Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth good will towards men." Christmas is a time to reflect on our Savior, Jesus Christ and the peace that He offers us. 

We went to Zagreb this week for our Christmas mission conference. It was so fun to see everyone from the MTC!! I miss them, but am grateful for the friendships that I made with them. At the mission conference, we had all 60 missionaries in the Adriatic North Mission there, along with the senior couples. We had lunch, President and Sister Grant spoke to us, and had another little Christmas program. President Grant focused his talk on PEACE as well. How we can find peace, how we should offer peace as missionaries, what peace means to him, and why peace is important. I thought it was really interesting because right after he spoke, the Slovene missionaries had a musical number called "Peace, Heavenly Peace." It was a really tender experience and the spirit was there. I am grateful for the gift of peace- and that I was able to study about it all week. 

On Saturday, some things had happened in the morning and I was a little grumpy and upset. I wanted to be happy and keep working hard, but I was struggling to understand the people around me and then someone told me that I would be a good missionary once I could speak Slovene. A member also pointed out to me that I had a zit on my face - WHO DOES THAT?! Hahaha and my skirt ended up ripping after I slipped on some ice. And I was feeling a little sad and lonely. That night I knelt down and prayed and just asked to feel loved and feel better. I sat there and waited to feel something and then a CLEAR thought came to my mind and it was what I had been studying all week. The gift of PEACE. I remembered a scripture I had been studying that morning and I felt warmth and love. The thought came to my mind, of what I had been testifying to people all week about the peace Christ offers to us, and now I was truly experiencing it for myself. I was testifying to people that when things are hard they can pray and feel peace. It was a really tender moment for me and I am grateful that I had a hard day so that I could come to understand the peace that Christ offers us at a deeper level. 

I received a few Christmas cards and packages in the mail this week from some friends and relatives.  Thank you for the treats and pictures!! I also got a letter from Mom about Christmas and I would like to end on some of the things she shared with me. She shared with me the lyrics of the Little Drummer Boy. It is about a poor boy who is taking a gift to the Savior. And although he does not have much, he takes his drum and plays his drum for him. It says that he played his best, and then Christ SMILED at him. I love that story. Even if our gift is little, it will make Christ smile. I know that as we give, the Lord is looking down upon us and smiling. During this Christmas season, as I have been remembering the gifts God has given me, I want to do my best to share a gift back so that I can make Christ smile, just like the little drummer boy. And the greatest gift I have to offer right now is the witness of my Savior. He lives and he LOVES us. He is aware of us and his tender mercies are around us each and everyday. 

Have a very Merry Christmas!! And FAMILY - I cannot wait to Skype with you in FOUR DAYS!!!! Enjoy your lovely american food.. As I sit here and enjoy my pig.. kidding.. but not really..!

Love, Sestra Nydegger

I dont really ever know what I am eating but it tastes good! 

Pretty sure they breed dogs and bears in Slovenia!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Celje, Slovenia: Be Fearless

HIII FAMILY AND FRIENDS... SO happy Emily is home!!!! Looks like it was busy week for everyone at home. Hope it all went well and that things are settling down now.. It was also a GOOD busy week here in Celje.The highlight of my week was when the sun came out for about 20 minutes.. It has been grey and cold for the three weeks I have been here... but once this week I saw a little bit of blue sky and sun! It made for a few very happy days :) Even though Slovenia is beautiful when it is grey, it is extra beautiful when the sun is out!

SOoooooooo to sum up what we did this week - was walked around and talked to people. Sometimes I feel like my mission is just this long walk where I am supposed to go talk to people while walking haha. 

Because it is December we have been busy helping our branch plan some Christmas activities. We have a Christmas party this Saturday with traditional Slovene food, games, and a Christmas program. We are trying to get a lot of our members to come and also non-member friends. The missionaries are in charge of the Christmas program- so we have been busy on planning musical numbers and a little script where the spirit of Christmas can be felt. Speaking of musical numbers- on Sunday the missionaries had to do a musical number for Sacrament meeting. In the Slovene hymn book, there are just two Christmas hymns, so we had to help translate one with the music that we found and then put together our own harmonies. It was a littleeee bit of a struggle.. especially because I had to stand and play the piano and then Sestra Cuthbert and the two elders gathered around me so that we could all stand by each other and sing together.. CRAZY- but the spirit was felt and it ended up going really well :) Back to the Christmas party... we are trying to figure out what to do because Slovene's don't really like to commit to anything until the day before.. but we need RSVPs so that we know how much food to make.. So we are not quite sure how this will all go.. but it is OKAY!! We are excited and hope it all goes well! This week we helped a few of the members with deep cleaning at the church. It was a little of a struggle for us Americans because they use chalk paint here to paint everything, so if you scrub the walls too hard, the paint comes off... It took us a few hours but it was good bonding with the members!

This is where we have sacrament meeting!! That is Vlado vacuuming... He is the ward mission leader. And Daniel a recent returned missionary.. He served in the other parts of the Adriatic North Mission.

Lately we have been trying to think of new ways to contact people, because the cold makes for some difficult finding. So last week we tried doing brezplačen kakav - free hot chocolate - and it I think I drank more hot chocolate than what we handed out... But we thought we would give it a try again this week and it was SO much better! We stood outside our church and while we sang, we passed out pass along cards and talked with people. And some of our nonmember friends came and helped us! We were able to talk with a lot of people, so we are going to continue on doing that once a week. 

​Funny story for you all... the word for "hot chocolate" is kakav... and the word for "how" is kako... They sound very similar just a different AH sound at the beginning. Sister Cuthbert and I were contacting people and we found this women who we were talking with a little. She told us she knew that there was a God that existed. And I went to ask her "How she knows that..." But because I had been using the phrase "brezplačen kakav" over and over when trying to pass out hot chocolate to people... I said "kakav??" She starred at me... and then just said "Lep dan!!" and walked away. I then realized what I did and we laughed and walked away. WHOOPS... Hahaha people here probably think we are crazy. Oh well, A for effort right? And then on Tuesday we were walking around center looking for some people to talk with.  We found a man and talked with him a little about family history. As we were there talking with him about families and God, he is just casually making his own cigarette and having us hold the garbage, so that he could make it- while he chats with us about God... The joys of trying to talk to people here in Slovenia.. (P.S EVERYONE smokes here.. We walk outside our apartment for five seconds and walk back in and already smell like smoke..) It is okay though - I really am learning to LOVE the people here and their crazy amazing lives!!! 

This week we had zone conference in Ljubljana which was so fun to see Elder Hughes again and meet the rest of the missionaries serving in Slovenia!! President and Sister Grant came up for it as well. One thing that I really took from zone conference is just to truly be FEARLESS. Before I left on my mission, that is one thing Dad always told me to do. To be FEARLESS with speaking the language, FEARLESS with loving the Slovenes, and just fearless with everything. I feel like I have talked about this in an email before... So sorry if I have.. But it has really been my focus for this week! I love how so many times in the Bible we hear, "BE OF GOOD CHEER.. FEAR NOT." I think that is so true. We are promised as missionaries that Christ is on our right hand and on our left. And because of that, we have every reason to be fearless and rejoice!! I love the quote by Charles Swindoll who said, "Courage is not limited to the battlefield... or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are inner tests, like remaining faithful when no one is looking... or standing alone when you are misunderstood." President Monson took that quote and said, "I might add that this inner courage also included doing the right thing even though we may be afraid. Or defending our beliefs at the risk of being ridiculed. Or maintaining those beliefs even when threatened with a loss of friends or of a social status." And I might now add, that being fearless and having courage is going up and helping someone that needs love.. even though it may be awkward for you.. Or going up and bravely saying I am a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints... Or being fearless in knocking on a door knowing that it will most likely be closed on us, but still trying anyways!! There are so many ways one can be courageous and not fear!!!

Thank you for your love and examples. I challenge you all this week to go out of your comfort zone... And make someone feel LOVED. And do something that might be scary or hard for you - but to remember that you can do it because you have the Savior of the world on your side... He wants us to succeed and be brave. He wants to help us learn to be FEARLESS. Remember that God lives and loves us. He can help us be brave with sharing our happy message!! He can work miracles through us when we just TRY... because he wants us to feel the joy that comes from sharing the gospel. Be happy and "be not afraid!!!"

Love you and pray for you ALWAYS -
Sestra Nydegger 

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 


Monday, December 8, 2014

Celje, Slovenia: The smallest person can change the course of the future - or whatever that Lord of the rings quote is

HI EVERYONE- Happy December!!! Hope everyone is staying warm and enjoying winter... Mom THANK YOU for the Christmas package!! I got it a few days ago, so I was very happy :) And thank you to the 18th ward for the HUGE banner!!! I hung that above my bed and feel so loved when I look at it each night.

I cannot believe it is already December. And I cannot believe EMILY comes home TOMORROW. That blows my mind!! I am so excited for her though. I am so grateful for her and that she decided to serve, because she is a strong influence of why I came on a mission! Whether it was getting my mission call, my farewell talk, leaving the MTC, or arriving in Slovenia - she has sent me long emails giving me advice and telling me that she is praying for me. I am so grateful for the love and the support that I feel from her. I hope to be able to serve as well and as diligently as she did!! I wish I could be there, but give her a big hug for me and I will be there in spirit!!! Good luck Hermana Nydegger, I am praying for you and that you adjust well!! 

This week has consisted of LOTS and LOTS of rain... Even though we are wet and cold, we are working hard - I don't think I have ever been so wet before in my life.. It rains and we sorta just stay out in the rain.. and keep working..  On Tuesday after we were wet from walking around in the rain, Sestra Cuthbert and I were really wanting a warm shower.. (Our water is usually cold, because it has been broken) So when the Elders told us that they always have hot water, we decided that we would try to fix it ourselves!! That was not the greatest idea we have had...We turned some of the knobs which caused one of the pipes to shoot out gross black water all over our bathroom and all over us- we just sat there for a second.  We could not stop laughing. We cleaned it up and threw our clothes in the wash.. And GUESS WHAT. We had warm water!!! That was a tender mercy from the Lord :) We called our landlord the next day, and he came and helped us fix it. He says he fixed it.. but the water is still cold so I am not sure what's happening.. We keep calling him and telling him it is still cold, but he says "You silly americans, it is warm!" hmmmmmm not sure how long this will last.. 

I am learning to embrace the awkward and embarrassing moments and just laugh!! Whether it is when I go up to someone and they just walk away without even looking at me, or when we slip and fall down on the wet stairs, or ice.. or when one of our creative ideas to find a new investigator fails, or when I try to communicate with someone and cannot understand anything they are saying back, or when our water heater sprays us with yucky stuff - I am learning to LAUGH. It helps lighten the mood and reminds us that we are here on earth to be HAPPY, and to find joy. 

We teach English class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.. There used to be a lot of people that came, but lately our class has only had two people coming. So we are trying to find more people so we can teach them English and get to know them a little better!! This week I was talking with one of the men that came, about religion a little. He told me that he was curious why our church says "Of Latter-Day Saints." I told him a little about the restoration, and he said he would rather just look it up on Google.. But he told me that it was interesting, even a little amazing, that our church sends out missionaries to try to convert the world - just by us missionaries. His English was a little choppy but what he was implying was sort of like a "good luck with just you few missionaries!!" I was thinking about that comment later that night and how easy it is to feel small sometimes. It is easy as people and missionaries to feel weak and sometimes like our efforts are useless!! My companion loves Lord of the Rings so she compared this situation to it. In Lord of the Rings, there is a quote...

"Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." 

Ok here is some of the inner Lord of the rings fan in me but - we are like Frodo, who is small - yet courageous. He stands up in front of the crowd, and even though he is small, he says "I will take the ring to Mordor, although I do not know the way." We sometimes face battles and think that we cannot face it, accomplish it, or are inadequate- but as we learn in Isaiah 60:22, "A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in His time."- we can find strength in the Lord! Even though there are just four of us here in Celje, we can change the course of the future by sharing our light and happiness! As we heard in this recent conference, Joseph Smith was too just one "small" person. But with the strength and help of the Lord, he RESTORED the church. We too, because of the Lord, are never to small nor not strong enough. I love how Elder Anderson said, "No force in the world, can stop the work of God... Go forward with COURAGE!" It does not say anything about size or our strength.. It just says that NOTHING can stop the work of the Lord. I love that.

I love you all and am thankful for you. I love the people I am meeting here everyday, and the beautiful place I get to live. I love the gospel and the message of HOPE. I love my Savior, and I love that we have this whole month to truly reflect on HIM and His teachings. I am so grateful to be a missionary!! So many "small people" right now are working together to build up His kingdom, and I am thankful that He is allowing me to be apart of his army!!! 

Sister Nydegger

Favorite food so far - delicious pancake type things

Our P-Day, we got to go to the Celje castle. 

View of the castle from our apartment

Jack and rose 

Celje town in the background