Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Celje, Slovenia: "In the strength of the Lord"

Hiiiiiii živijo in dobro jutro družina!!!!!! 

This past week was the Slovene holiday PUST!!!! It lasts for a week long and is sort of like Halloween mixed with Groundhog's day.  People dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating all day long, and all week long. The funny thing though, is that it is not just the kids. All the kids, teenagers, parents... grandmas...grandpas - EVERYONE dresses up and lives their normal life, just in a costume. Hahaha I laughed a lot this week seeing little grandmas dressed up in full-on costumes. Pust also consists of soooooo many donuts. This week was a little bit of a struggle with healthy eating healthy. Oh well.. The point of the Pust is to "scare off winter" and they do that with these Kurant things running around with huge bells.. We went to Ptuj on Monday, where this holiday originated.. and there were about 50 of them running around.. a.k.a TERRIFYING. I uploaded a video to dropbox, so you can all see.

While we were walking around that town, eating donuts, we went up to the Ptuj castle and we found a kurant costume.. and of course I could not pass up the opportunity to try it all on.

Notice the name tag.. :) Obviously I had to make sure it was visible while I wore that costume for a few minutes..  Anyway, I could barely stand up the head piece was so heavy. Props to the Slovene's for running around in them, because there was no way I could do that!! And the happy thing is, that Pust did in fact scare off winter this week!! We are finally out of the negative degrees.  Happy. Except yesterday, it POURED all day long. I had my big puffy coat, raincoat underneath, and sweater on.. and also held my umbrella.. But because of the wind, somehow by the time we got to church.. the water had soaked down all the way to my sweater... I don't think I have ever been that wet from rain before!! 

So this past month we have been really focusing on the sacrament with the members here in Celje. Because our branch is so little, sacrament is over in about 2 minutes. And it becomes easy to forget why we take the sacrament each week. So lately I have been studying the sacrament so that I can appreciate it more. Every time I study about it, my mind tends to focus back to the Atonement. And when I normally think of the Atonement, I tend to think of the REDEEMING part - how we can repent and become clean through Christ. But as a missionary, I am really learning about the ENABLING power of the Atonement. In Mosiah 9:17 we read, "In the strength of the Lord..." Nephi was an example of one who knew what in the strength of the Lord meant. While he was being mocked by his brothers and tied up, he says - "O Lord, according to my faith, will thou deliver me and give me the strength that I may burst these bands." Nephi did not pray to have his circumstances changed. Rather he prayed for the strength to change his circumstances. He understood the enabling power of the Atonement. Alma and Amulek understood as well. When they were in prison, Alma prayed, "O Lord, give us strength according to our faith, which is in Christ, unto deliverance." Alma had confidence that in the strength of the Lord they could continue on. In the strength of the Lord we can do all things!!! And that is what we have power to do, through the enabling part of the Atonement. 

This week I felt the enabling power of the Atonement... This week was another difficult week for finding. The past two weeks, we have dedicated almost all of our time to FINDING and CONTACTING and yet we still havent relaly found one person who would be interested. On Saturday, after 2 of our lessons with members fell through, and we had tracted and contacted all day with no interest, I felt so tired and wanted to go take a nap or lay down. My feet were so tired from walking everywhere. I was tired of going up to people and trying so hard to speak their language to just have them walk away and not listen... I just felt DONE!!! As we kept walking looking for people to talk to, the quote of Elder Holland came to my mind. 

He says, "Missionaries, when you are spit upon, cast out, laughed at, mocked, rejected - you are standing SHOULDER to SHOULDER with the greatest missionary to walk this earth.. our Savior, Jesus Christ. You have every reason to stand tall." 

I still felt tired, but felt comfort from that quote. I decided that through the enabling power of the Atonement, I could still find strength to keep talking with people and keep walking. So even though this week, we still had 0s for all of our key indicators, and same for last week... I feel strength and power from the Lord to keep inviting and keep trying!! Because that is why I am here. I am here to INVITE and then the Lord will help with the rest :) 

The enabling power of the Atonement is REAL. It strengthens us at times when we feel as if we can not continue on. It strengthens us to do things that we could never do on our own. Our Heavenly Father knows us and loves us. He may not always remove the problems and trials that we face, but he will give us strength to continue on and find comfort in always moving forward. He can make us stronger and braver than we could ever imagine!!!!! I am witnessing it every day.

Thank you for being the greatest family and friends in the world!! 
I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have a happy week!!! 

Sestra Nydegger

Tracting this week.. 

Me: "Zdravo mišionarski sva iz cerkev Jezusa Kristusa, in danes imava sporočilo ob Jezusu Kristusu.."
Old man: *stares for a while*.... "No one is home!!!" *door shut*.. 

Me: *We were wet from the rain* "Zdravo, kako ste danes?? Ali si kdaj slišala za Mormonovo Knjigo?"
Lady: "Sorry I would let you in, but you are all wet and will get us sick.."
Me: (in my head of course..) try being the one wet hahaha.

I love Ljubliana!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Celje, Slovenia: Just follow the river...

FAM... IMAM TE RADA :)  I want to start off by saying thank you.. I love reading your emails everyweek. I feel so blessed for the amazing friends and family that I have.. I am so BLESSED. Thank you for making me feel LOVED!! This week Sister Brown and I got to do a spiritual thought for all the YSA in Slovenia! There were about five of them and we talked about Christ-like love and the love that Christ offers us. In Moroni chapter 7 we learn more about this Christ-like love, charity.

And it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
Wherefore, . . . pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons [and daughters] of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; . . . that we may be purified even as he is pure. 

Elder Holland has said, "True charity, the absolutely pure, perfect love of Christ, has really been known only once in this world—in the form of Christ Himself, the living Son of the living God. It is Christ’s love that Mormon goes to some length to describe for us and that Paul the Apostle did as well some years before, writing to the Corinthians in New Testament times. As in everything, Christ is the only one who got it all right, did it all perfectly, loved the way we are all to try to love. But even though we fall short, that divine standard is there for us. It is a goal toward which we are to keep reaching, keep striving—and, certainly, a goal to keep appreciating."

I love that.. We always can find ways to LOVE more and to share that love with those around us. We fall short as human, but because of the Atonement we can try again to be a little better and be a little more kind :) For valentines day my district went around to some of the members in our branch and heart attacked their doors. They all loved it. It made me happy to make others feel loved.

I am grateful for the LOVE I feel from my Heavenly Father and those around me every day. As Elder Holland says - "It is there through thick and thin. It endures through sunshine and shadow, through darkest sorrow and on into the light. It never fails. So Christ loved us, and that is how He hoped we would love each other." Let us all be a true disciples of Christ, and share that love to those around us.

I went on exchanges this week with the Kranjski sestri. I was with Sister Konietz! She is from Frankfort Germany. This is her last transfer and I had a lot of fun working with her for a few days. We made it a goal for that transfer to have FUN and be obedient, hard-working missionaries at the same time. We tried to be a little more creative with our daily routine of tracting and contacting. We also are focusing on commitments in simple street contacts. ALSO... when we went to tract huge blocks, we made a fun game to see who would get the weirdest, meanest, or funniest response on each floor ;) And if you did win the floor, you would get a point.. And whoever had the most points at the end of the day, got to pick out a treat or food for us to enjoy at night. I would start one door, and she would start the next. At the end of each floor we would laugh and decide who got the greatest response from people. ALSO WHOEVER GOT A NEW INVESTIGATOR WON THE GAMES HANDS DOWN RIGHT THEN.  I definitely won one floor, when I rang the doorbell and a old man opened the door... with NO PANTS ON.... Nothing, but a shirt........... So casual.. I don't think he even found that uncomfortable for him.. I felt so awkward and started to laugh and somehow could not get any words out... ahhhh.. Gotta love tracting :) 

On Friday, Sister Brown and I went to go meet with a potential found through contacting one day. We called her and she agreed to set up!!!!! So we got her address and soon realized it was farther away than we thought. We figured out train schedules and did our best to find it. We were on the train for a little and got off on the right stop, to soon realize we were in the middle of no where.... It was a little village with long corn fields and grape vines.. We started walking and after about 20 minutes of walking and not finding her address, we called her and she came and picked us up. We got to her house and we started talking with her about the gospel and soon lost complete control of the lesson as she went off about her own faith and own beliefs. We tried to teach her, but she told us to not come back as missionaries - but that we could come back just as friends one day.. We said okay and asked for her help to get back to Celje. She drove us in her car somewhere, and brought us to a river. She told us just to follow the river and it will lead us back to Celje.. As we looked down the long straight river that seemed to lead to no where, we asked her again. And she said "Še napre!!!" Straight ahead.. We laughed and agreed confused to where in the world we were, and started walking through the muddy snow/slush along the river to get home.

I felt like I was in the Wizard of Oz and being told to follow the yellow brick road... forever... and ever.. We kept walking.. and walking.. in the middle of no where.. After about an hour and a half of walking, we were SO relieved to finally see the Celje castle in our distance.. hahaha such an adventure.. just gotta follow the Savinja reka :) 

YIKES! ANyway another great week in the country of Slovenija! Thank you for your prayers.. I feel them. I am really doing well! I have an incredible companion... I am living in a beautiful place.. And i feel the spirit so strongly day to day, hour to hour.. I relaly could not be more happy.

Have a wonderful happy week.. I love you!

Sestra Nydegger

While at a zone conference in Kranj!

Message delivery snowman!

sometimes when youre out contacting all day, you get a little tired and gotta keep things fun.. so we made this video and showed it to the elders. HAHA THEY LITERALLY THINK I ATE YELLOW SNOW.. little do they know we just bought yellow syrup and put it in the snow so it was like a snow cone.. 


Monday, February 9, 2015

Celje, Slovenia: ... it's cold outside!

Good Morning family and friends!! I am so happy to be emailing all of you today. So much happened this week, and I have so many thoughts so... HERE WE GO!!!!

This week started off with WARM weather, blue skies and SUN! It was windy, but I did not need my coat.  Fun! I got to drive us down to Croatia for mission leadership conference. It was a bit scary without GPS and dealing with the European insane drivers. But we eventually made it there safely. MLC was a wonderful experience. I always love sharing ideas with those around me, and I learned a lot! Zone conference was on Wednesday which went great. This is when the crazy weather started happening. We woke up to snow again and quickly got on the train early that morning to Kranj.  I think there is nothing more magical and beautiful than a snowy train through the villages of Slovenia. Its long rolling hills of fluffy snow, with cute churches and villages everywhere.. it is MAGICAL!!  Sister Brown and I taught our zone about contacting and tracting and having FAITH. It was a cheesy and silly lesson as we made everyone stand up and yell with a fist pump that "The Lord can do this. We can be an instrument!" a few times in a row.. but I think it helped motivate us to have more faith.. because that is what I feel like I could really be better at. 

That night after zone conference, the Celje and Maribor missionaries all went to the train station to head home. We realized we had missed our scheduled train, so we had about an hour of just waiting there. We started off by building a snowman.. It turned out a little creepy because we did not have materials or anything.. but we tried.

And then after as we sat there waiting for our train to come... we decided to sing some hymns in Slovene. The spirit soon filled that dark cold night in the train station, as we shared our testimony to those around us through music. People soon started filming us and clapping whenever we would finish a song. I started passing out mormon.org cards and explained why we were here. When our train finally came, Sister Brown and I sat down in a little cart with this man, and two of the Maribor elders. And when we started trying to communicate with him, we realized he was speaking Croatian and could not understand us. With a lot of patience and laughing we slowly started finding ways to communicate with each other despite the language differences. He asked me how many moms I had, and when I responded "one."  He would shake his head and say "Nah nah nah" and roll his eyes.. He then asked us who our boss was. We pulled out a picture of President Grant and he said, "Tvoj čef je OBAMA!!!!!" Bless his heart. He literally thought President Grant was Obama.. ummm no sir.. 

And now it has been snowing the past few days!! Not too much in Celje, but apparently some places in Slovenia got about 4 feet! It has been FREEZING. We don't have a thermometer, but our friend told us that a few days ago is was -21 degrees Celsius!! (about -6 F). When dressing for the cold, I look like this huge marshmellow thing with all my layers, and a permanent red nose.. Now it is just about -8 degrees C, which with lots of layers, I am warm :)

Lots of layers help keep me warm!
Besides mission leadership conference, and zone conference, we did not  really have any other lessons or meetings. So we decided that a good reasonable goal would be to find 3 new investigators this week, seeing how much time we have for finding! Well Saturday evening came around, and we had spent the whole day finding.. and still did not have one investigator from this week. (also side note - investigators for us also count as someone who commits to listen to us for a little on the street. Progressing investigators are those who will set up with us for another time!) We decided to stop and pray right there just to find one person who would be interested. We continued talking with people, but somehow whenever religion gets brought up, they quickly seem to run out of time to talk. It is hard because Slovenia has an awful history of religion, and it scares them because they do not want a war again. We smile and tell them we understand and move on and try another person. Long story short - we still did not find any new people who would be interested, but it is okay. I am learning what it means to exercise faith. I am glad this week I choose to focus on the Christ-like attribute of humility. Because I was studying it and focusing on it each day, it helped me feel happy even though people were not wanting to listen to us. I was happy and felt peaceful with my efforts because I knew that I was doing my part and as I humbly keep trying, I know that is all I can do :) 

This week I finished the book of Mosiah, and I was amazed once again how strong Abinadi and Alma were. They were such courageous missionaries and so strong with the things they know. Each day on my mission, I try to do something that challenges me. Something that stretches me to a higher level. And sometimes it is hard!!I remember someone once giving me the advice, NEVER BE COMFORTABLE.  But through it, I am growing. I am developing better. And I am contributing more good! I think it is amazing that we really have no idea who we are and what we can accomplish in this life. We truly have great potential far beyond what we can imagine today. As we look to Christ, our greatest example and friend, our life will reflect our Heavenly Father's will, to grow and learn and become examples of righteousness. 

I LOVE YOU.. HAPPY VALENTINES DAY THIS WEEK - I am so grateful for the love that I feel from you.. and the love I get to offer to the people here in Slovenia.. You make me smile and make my heart happy!!! Thank you for your love. 

Sister Nydegger 

On our way to Zagreb!

Sister Richardson

Dog, wolf or bear?

Holiday this week with a Yak that will pick you up if you don't wave a handkerchief at it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Celje, Slovenia: ...moldy apartment...


The start of a new transfer is great. I love it! In a way, it is a time to start new again and make new goals to become a little better. I want to improve, and become a stronger, more faithful missionary... so I decided to make some new goals this week.

I have come to realize that I need more faith. I need to rely more on the Lord. In a letter I got from Sister Gochnour, she drew me this picture of the "ladder of faith."

Sister Gochnour's ladder of faith.
When I looked at this, I felt as if I was currently in the spot where I say, "I can do this with the Lord's help." But I need to work harder to be in the top rung, where I can say, "The Lord can do this - I can be an instrument." I felt motivated to look more to the Lord and rely on him, for what He wants me to do each day. I am learning to trust more in the Lord, and ask for specific things as I pray- to exercise more faith. This week we have zone conference, and I actually get to teach the zone about finding.  And one of the things I have learned so much this last week while studying 'finding' is that FAITH is crucial. 

Sister Brown and I also made it a goal to be more obedient. We are striving to be EXACTLY obedient so that we can reap the blessings. One thing I am noticing is that it is easy for me to be obedient, but I do not have the best attitude. I am working on my attitude, so that I WANT to be obedient each day. In PMG it says, "Obedience will lead to increased faith, bring the spirit in greater measure, and open the door to true happiness." I know that the more I strive to be exactly obedient, the more happy I will become. 

I also made it a goal to do something kind for someone each day - one act of service a day. I want to serve those around me more!! Service really does bring happiness. 

The last goal I am really focusing on this transfer is to be more Christ-like. I want to naturally be naturally Christ-like. It is easy to be kind and nice when you are thinking about it, but I want to obtain Christ-like attributes, so that they come naturally. So I have decided to focus on one Christ-like attribute a week. This week I am focusing on humility. 

I feel like I can sum up my goals for this transfer with the simple words from a primary song.. "What does the Father ask of us? What do the scriptures say? Have FAITH, have HOPE, live like His Son, HELP OTHERS ON THEIR WAY." I love that and I am excited to grow more as I strive to do that this transfer. 

This week was a busy week - which is a wonderful thing when you are a missionary - but things are just not slowing down!! Which is good, because I prefer to be busy rather than have nothing to do :) After we finish emailing today, we are driving down to Croatia for a mission leadership conference at the mission home.. We will be there until Tuesday. (I am getting so many stamps in my passport.. it is so fun :)) And then on Wednesday we have zone conference in Kranj! This last week, we have been getting Sister Brown all moved in.. Which speaking of - I love Sister Brown. She is funny... She always has something to say and she is amazing at Slovene.. She has made it a goal this transfer to help me learn Slovene... because it is a little bit of a struggle.. ahhh.. but I am excited!!! I love working with her.

This week when we sat down for weekly planning, we went to open the window.. and found MOLD growing on the window.. INSIDE our apartment... not okay. I went to get something to clean it up and soon realized that it was on ALL OF OUR WINDOWS. The window seal, that I thought was just black, actually is supposed to be WHITE... We then went around and checked all the blinds in the house and all the corners and realized that the house was full of dust and mold.. gotta love living in such humid places.. So we spent a day of deep cleaning this 20 year old missionary apartment....... woooooof.... I kept thinking of Elder Bushe's advice where he says, "Do what you do with all your heart, mind, and strength.. In thoroughness is satisfaction." Oh were we thorough.. Thankfully - now the apartment is clean and mold free!!!.. for now at least.

Yucky mold EVERYWHERE!

Well I am happy and I love being a missionary.. we found an investigator named Lucija!!! She is 16 years old and while we were handing out free hot chocolate, I talked to her. I asked her if she would meet with us again, and she said YES!! We met with her this last week to talk about the obnova and we gave her a Mormonova Knija.. we are hopeful and have faith that she will progress :) Other than that, this week consisted of finding and finding.. and talking to almost everyone we see.. walking... and more walking... I FEEL LIKE I AM JUST ON A LONG WALK EVERYDAY hahahaha... However, as President Hinckley says, "Do your best, your very, very, best. Say your prayers and work hard - And leave the rest to the Lord!!" And that is exactly what I am doing. 

Love you and pray for you.. thank you for LOVING me!!! 
Sister Nydegger 

Beautiful, huge cathedral in Croatia!