Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Celje, Slovenia: In thoroughness is satisfaction...

HI people!!! We spent so much time this last week tracting in the countryside.. and I honestly do not think I have ever been in a more peaceful place - birds chirping, green everywhere, blossoms on trees - I LOVE SLOVENIA. I could walk around there and tract all day - the world is such a beautiful place!

Tracting in the country side not only is beautiful.. but it is fun because there are more people who have not heard of the missionaries or our church because they live farther out than town center.  We met a man who was doing some farm work, and then invited us in for a drink. We talked about the restoration with him and although he was not interested in us teaching him more, he agreed to let us pray with him before we left. There was a sweet spirit in the little cottage. 

While we were tracting, we saw this old lady who had 12 HUGE lambs out in her yard.. and then in her shed-like-thing there were 6 cows that looked like oxen they were so big! We tried to talk with her about the gospel a little.. but that lost her interest quickly, so I thought I would try to ask her about her farm. It was going well and all until I quickly learned that I do not know any animal words in Slovene. We quickly started laughing together as I had to make animal sounds in order to communicate. And bless her heart.. she was so sweet but could not hear me well, so I literally was talking as loud as I could saying, "koliko BAAAAA ali imate?".. or "kaj pa tvoj MOOOOO..." She thought it was so funny and somehow was able to understand what I was asking! She gave us a tour of all her animals after. It is a good thing the Nydegger Family nativity scene on Christmas eve paid off for my all my animal sounds ;) 

Well we had a WONDERFUL week.. we had lots of fun and Sister Higgins and I are working hard to be diligent missionaries. We have been meeting lately with one of our investigators, that Sister Brown and I found at the beginning of my last transfer. She has agreed to keep letting us come over once a week and share parts of our message. We had a very spiritual lesson with her about prayer this week. I read in Eden's email last week that they will specifically ask the person what they want the missionaries to pray for at the beginning of the lesson, so that the investigator can see the faith that we have through prayer. So I tried doing that for our investigator here, and it really brought the spirit in a sweet way as she asked us to pray for her son in school. We are hopeful that she will progress. 

The Christlike attribute I have been working on this week is DILIGENCE.  Diligence is steady, consistent, earnest, and an energetic effort in doing the Lord's work. Diligence in missionary work is an expression of your love for the Lord, and his work. Elder Holland once said, "From the second you get up in the morning, EVERY thought... word... and action should resemble your call." 

One of my favorite examples of a diligent missionary is Nephi, the son of Helaman. After a long day of missionary work, Nephi prays to the Lord saying that no one would listen - which as missionaries, we sometimes feel that a lot!! The Lord comforts Nephi as he says, "Blessed art thou Nephi, thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word." It continues on in verse 12 and says, "He (Nephi) did not stop and go unto his house - but did return back to the multitude and began to declare the word of God." Nephi did not go lay down or take a break and complain that doors kept being shut... but immediately returned back to the people to keep trying - DILIGENCE. I am striving to be more like Nephi. 

After a day of contacting on Saturday, we were walking home along the river and walking back into center. This man came up to me and quickly greeted me and said he was happy to see me! I assumed that he was someone I contacted before, because I could not remember - and when all you do each day is contact, you meet so many great people :) I quickly told him I was sorry, but I could not remember his name. He reminded me and told me last time we talked was before Christmas. I quickly then remembered that Sestra Cuthbert and I had contacted him one of my first few weeks in Slovenia. He told me that he has been waiting to find me today because he heard the song "New York" on the radio and thought of ME. (Side note: I tell everyone here I am from New Jersey because that is a lot cooler to them than Utah.... And no one ever knows where New Jersey is, so I say it is close to New York - and then they understand.) I laughed and told him I was so happy that he thought of me! I also told him I was a little shocked he remembered that because I talked to him once for maybe 5 minutes on the street, five months ago and he remembered. He started singing the song and said "I was so excited to tell you today." I confusedly asked him how he knew he would see me today. He told me, while pointing to a window above us, that his apartment was right there and each and everyday he watches the sister missionaries walk by. He said "everyday it is the same, you talk with people, allllll day long.. Each and everyday! I always see you. So I waited to see you today so I could come and tell you." My heart was filled with warmth as I realized that this man, who I had completely forgotten about, was aware of us each and everyday - inviting people to come unto Christ and constantly talking to people. This man was a cute reminder to me, that if I am a diligent, hard-working missionary, people will notice. And although some decline the gospel right now, they will remember the missionaries they met or sometimes see, and one day, when the time is right, accept the gospel for themselves, when missionaries talk to them again. 

Sorry this is so long - Have a great week! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY!!! You are a light in my life - thank you for being such a wonderful friend and sister. I hope you have the happiest day!! I love you and miss you. 

Thank you for your constant love and prayers. I am so grateful and I love you all SOOO much! Continue being diligent disciples of Christ is your words, thoughts, and actions. 

Love, Sister Nydegger

My friend Herman!  He offered to take us paragliding after the mission...

one day this week while contacting we noticed there were a lot of these "what a tricky culture" graffitis.. so we took a picture next to all of the ones we could find 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Celje, Slovenia: Wake Up The World

HELLO EVERYONE - First.. I cannot believe that you got SNOW this week in Utah!!! We had the craziest weather here in Celje as well. The week started off hot and humid. We were sticky all day long. And then we woke up Thursday to thunderstorms and rain.. and it rained.. and rained and rained.. Until Saturday afternoon. It was so cold again I pulled out my winder coat and gloves again.. Luckily no snow.. But now the weather is nice cool and sunny again and we are going to go have a picnic by the beautiful Celje lake :) YAY for spring!! It is so green. And lots of FLOWERS! I always love how beautiful it is after the rain. It reminds me that there is always HOPE and light after times of darkness and trial.

Rain makes a pretty country side1

And results in amazing sunsets!
We had zone conference in Ljubljana this week. I always look forward to these meetings and the revelation we receive through them. I had a really special experience this last week. Sister Grant spoke to us about Elder Neil L. Andersen's talk "Joseph Smith." She asked us to read it in preparation for zone conference. As I was studying it during personal study, I remembered that I had watched that session of General Conference when I was in the MTC. My mind quickly was reminded of my thoughts when I heard that talk 6 months ago. I really learned the truthfulness in the promise that "The Lord granteth unto men according to their desire."

Elder Andersen says that "you will not be a help to others, unless you have a strong testimony first yourself." He gives the example of when you are on an airplane, and if you need to use the oxygen mask, you must first adjust your own mask before you help those around you. He then challenged every person listening to gain a testimony for themselves of the prophet, Joseph Smith. I remember hearing that in the MTC and feeling like Elder Andersen was talking directly to me. I knew that the church was true, and I knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet.. but I questioned myself, if I TRULY KNEW that Joseph Smith was the prophet of the restoration. 

I remember that night in the MTC I was going on a walk with my companion before we went to bed, and I remember asking Sister Hassell if she really knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet. We talked about if for a while, and I felt very prompted that I needed to gain a stronger testimony for myself.. before I got out to teach it to the people in Slovenia. I knew that it was true because I had a strong enough testimony of the Church's truthfulness, but I had never taken the time to pray and really gain a testimony of just Joseph Smith. I prayed that night and asked for help.. I prayed for a stronger knowledge to know that Joseph was a prophet of God - and that Christ and Heavenly Father did appear to him. I prayed earnestly that night.. and then went to bed and did not think much more about it. 

I had a really special experience this week reading that talk again, seeing that the Lord heard my prayer, and knew my desires. Because now, the restoration and Joseph Smith is the strongest point of my testimony! I feel the spirit so strongly whenever I testify to people about Joseph Smith, the young boy who had the courage to ASK. It was a witness to me that my testimony is strengthening throughout my mission, because I had that desire. 

We stood up as zone, with all the Slovenian missionaries this week and sang "Praise to the Man" in English. I always feel the spirit so strongly through music, but this was especially strong. My testimony of Joseph Smith is unfailing. I know that he was a disciple of the Lord, Jesus Christ. God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ appeared to him - calling him by name. 

"Wake up the world for the conflict of justice, millions shall know Brother Joseph again."

Wake up the world!! That is why I am here on my mission.. To teach people the unique message that our church has to offer, the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My favorite thing to recite to people in Slovene is the first vision. It uses words that cannot be described as eloquently in my own native tongue. And I believe that nothing invites the spirit so strongly, as hearing Joseph's own words on that event that changed the world. 

As Brother Joseph firmly testifies, "Shall we not go in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage and on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice and be exceedingly glad." I know that when we first adjust our own testimonies, we will then be able to testify with greater boldness and authority to those who listen. God knows our desires. 

I love you and miss you!!! Have a happy week and KEEP SMILING :) 


Service project in the rain.

These kids followed us when tracting.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Celje, Slovenia: Heavenly Father Knows!

HI EVERYONE.. Happy Spring!!!! This was once again a wonderful week and I am so happy to be a missionary here. As my mission plaque scripture says, the Lord is aware of us.. "whatsoever land we may be in" and we must always take the time to recognize his hand in our life. The Lord blessed Sister Higgins and I in many ways this week! 

Our week started off with a few lessons set up for Tuesday, with people we met last week. When all three of them fell through, we were left with a whole day of more contacting and tracting. Sister Higgins and I prayed that we could accomplish the things that the Lord desired from us that day. We walked to some of the neighborhoods and started tracting a few apartments.  After a few hours of tracting and no one really listening, a door opens and it was a man speaking very very rapidly... difficult to understand... but he was very excited and immediately told us to come in! We sat down and I asked him the usual beginning questions... "Have you heard of the church?" "What do you believe?" Due to his very fast speaking it took me a few minutes to process what he was saying, but he was saying he was a member of the church already! We ended up having an amazing 15 minute conversation with him about how he met the missionaries, when he was baptized, and so on. We ended with a prayer, and were very grateful that the Lord led us to find him on Tuesday.

As we were heading home to go make some dinner, we were walking through a neighborhood, and I saw a house with a yard full of bikes, soccer balls, baby dolls.. aka a FAMILY! I was quickly prompted by the spirit, being reminded of what I read that morning in Preach My Gospel. "Look for signs of families as you contact and teach." If that was not a sign from Heavenly Father saying, "Sister Nydegger go tract that house!" then I do not know what is!  We knocked on the door and a little shy girl answered the door. I started talking with her and asked if her parents were home. She said they were not. So I figured we would at least be friendly and talk with this little girl. I asked how old she was and she said 8 years old! I told her that I have a sister in America who is just like her. She squealed and with such excitement in her eyes said, "You are from America?!" I laughed and said yes. She quickly asked if she could tell me something in English. I said of course, and she looked at me and with so much confidence said, "You is beautiful!" She was so excited to speak the little English she had learned once. My heart melted.. I could not help but think of my little sister Lily. She quickly ran upstairs squealing (sort of like Lily's little giggle/squeal she does when she sees animals :)) But her 13 year old sister came down and we talked with them for a few minutes. As we were getting ready to leave, their parents pulled in. They were confused to who we were, but we quickly told them what we do as missionaries and that we have a message that can strengthen our families. We asked if we could come by next week and they said yes! So we will go over on Friday and are hopeful that they will progress.

The Lord knows us and we must always take time to recognize his hand in our life. I learned an amazing lesson that day, that sometimes our plans are different than what Heavenly Father has planned. And this is a lesson that is not only learned through missionary work and plans falling through, but also in our daily lives. Sometimes things happen that are not according to our desires or understandings, but with faith in Heavenly Father and his perfect plan, we can find hope in times of trial or sadness - knowing that Heavenly Father is always aware of us. His plan is perfect - and we all accepted that perfect plan before we came to this earth. His perfect plan including sorrows, failures, heart aches, but also joys, families, and love. How wonderful it is that we have the knowledge that Heavenly Father does have a plan... that is the greatest source of peace in this life. My prayers go to the Hirst family this week, I love you.

Celje Flag
Yesterday we had a wonderful fast and testimony meeting here in Celje. All four of us missionaries got up and bore our testimonies and there was a sweet spirit. I cannot express the love I have for the members here in Celje. As I bore my testimony to them about the knowledge I have that Christ lives, I was reminded of my first time I bore my simple testimony in the Celje Branch. So many of the women in the branch calmed my nervous fears for "my first real testimony in Slovene", but smiled at me and gave me thumbs up in the back of the room - helping me feel peace. And they still did that again yesterday..I felt the spirit of love and gratitude yesterday as I looked at our small, yet full room of such strong, valiant members. They truly are my brothers and sisters and I feel so blessed to be serving by their sides as we work together to hasten the Lords work. 

I love you all - thank you for your prayers and support.. I feel them each and every day!! Have a wonderful happy week.. "Have faith, have hope, live like His son.. help others on their way." 

Love, Sister Nydegger 

Pineapple Cobler!
Took Sister Higgins to the Celje Castle on P-Day!
No dead squirrels in the streets, just dead HEDGE HOGS.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Celje, Slovenia: He Lives!

HI FAMILY...I am so happy you all had a good conference weekend and a happy Easter!! I thought of you this week as my sweet companion and I dyed Easter eggs together.. I missed doing that with all of you. But Sister Higgins and I did have a fun time together :) The only problem is that the eggs here are dark brown so we could only use a few of the dark colors to dye them. But we still had fun!

First day tracting!
So YES!! I am training Sister Higgins from Pocatello, Idaho. She is the sweetest. She loves to laugh and has a happy, positive attitude and I am so excited to work with her. On Tuesday, the 6 of us training, were waiting for the plane to arrive. When we found out it was delayed for a few hours, Sister Derenthal and Sister Allred (my MTC roomates) and I decided to go out a try contacting in Zagreb. And it was the funnest thing!! I would start off speaking Slovene to them, and when they would say they did not understand, Sister Allred would start speaking Serbian to them and when they still did not understand, Sister Derenthal - who is serving in Croatia - would respond in Croatia. And then we would all throw some English words in and somehow were able to communicate with the people in Zagreb using 4 different languages. We were having so much fun together!!! It was great to be with my friends from the MTC and see how we are all slowly starting to finally understand these languages :)

My MTC friends - Allred, Derenthal
We got Sister Higgins all moved in and then we went and did some contacting. We had many great conversations with people. Later we did weekly planning and poor Sister Higgins was so tired.. jet lag is real :) 

Also.. I have been brought to the knowledge this week how I really dont know slovene yet. hahahaha sometimes someone will be talking to me and sister higgins and I just look at them.. and then smile.. and then walk away... knowing that they had no clue what I was trying to say and they had no clue what I was trying to say. 

Because there are a lot of Catholics here in Slovenia, Easter is a big Holiday and a lot of people celebrate it. Except instead of celebrating it just on Sunday - they celebrate it SaturdaySunday, and Monday. So the past few days have been slow for missionary work.. because no one is out to contact.. but we still decided to go tracting and visit some of the members. For Easter here, there are some similar traditions, but also some different ones. One thing that I have noticed here, while talking with people about the resurrection of Christ, they really focus Easter on the fact that Christ died for us. They put up lots of crosses. Although I am so grateful that Christ died for us and I love pondering that thought, I am grateful for the knowledge we have this Easter season, that not only did he die for us - but he LIVES for us!!! 

Sister Higgins and I started off our morning study session yesterday by singing "I Know that My Redeemer lives." I sat that day during studies and pondered on those profound words. He lives to bless me with His love. He loves to plead for me above. He lives to bless in time of need. He lives to grant me rich supply. He lives to guide me. He lives to comfort me when faint. He lives to hear my soul's complaint. He lives to wipe away my tears. He lives to silence all my fears. He lives to calm my troubled heart. 

I am so grateful that not only did he die for us.. but that HE LIVES for us!!!! I know that he lives. I feel it as I testify to people.. I feel it as a listen to Prophets, who have the authority of God, testify to us the things that we must hear today. I know that he lives because he blesses me with opportunites to grow through challenges. I know that he lives because he has given me so many experiences, to help me become the person he desires for me to come. I know that my Redeemer lives.. what comfort this sweet sentence gives. 

We met with a member on Easter who has been to Jerusalem and Egypt and studies a lot about the Hebrew culture. He taught me something that I thought was so beautiful. He said in the Hebrew culture, when they are eating something and they are not done, the fold their napkin up neatly.. so that whoever is cleaning, knows that they are not done. If the napkin is just thrown on the table, the waiter will clean it up. But when it is folded, they wait because the person is not yet finished. And he compared it to when Christ rose from the tomb, he neatly folded his cloth up and placed it there for people to see. That symbolizes that he was not done!! His work is not done. And how blessed we are today, to be apart of that work.. Let us all be more fully disciples of Jesus Christ and stand by him in all times and all things and all places.. and help our Savior - because this work is not finished!!


Our new district!

Easter day