Monday, August 31, 2015

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Progression to Become


Mom sent me a little quote this week that I feel goes along with exactly what I wanted to write you guys today-- It says, "As you draw nearer to the Lord, he will guide you to become the BEST version of yourself." It takes humility though. I sometimes find myself becoming upset because I am so far from PERFECT. I try so hard to do what is right, but it is so easy to fall short. I find myself each night on my knees, pleading like Nephi. "What a wretched man am I.." It is so important that we are constantly striving to repent, so that we can BECOME. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who is SO patient with me. Last night, I was listening to a talk and felt impressed on so many things I can do better. I do love seeing my weaknesses though, because it is time that I can choose to rely on the Lord and make them a strength, so that I can become who HE wants me to be. And the closer I grow to my Savior, the more in tune I am with the spirit to know what I can do better. I am growing closer to him on my mission each and everyday. And the more I grow closer to him, the more I want to share about him to the people around me! We truly have a message of GOOD NEWS. 

This has lead me to think a lot this week about how important PROGRESSION is. We meet so many people on the street who will sometimes listen to us, but it is hard to set up follow-up appointments again. Which is not helping them progress. We are working hard as a zone and as a mission to help these people PROGRESS towards baptism... and progress to make eternal covenants with God. I am so grateful for progression, and for the ability we have to BECOME. 

On my mission, I have grown to learn what it truly means to LIVE THE GOSPEL. There is a difference between knowing the gospel, having a testimony and actually living the gospel. As we live the gospel we can always know how to progress as humans. One way I have found that I can personally progress through living the gospel, is REAL scripture study. Before my mission, I knew it was important to read the scriptures each day.. I understood that it was a commandment, but I did not know how to live that commandment. I would often times be laying down in bed at night, grab my phone, read one verse and call it good! This is what we would call, "the gospel in my head." I knew it was important, so I would do it. But as a missionary, I have learned the importance of needing the gospel in my heart. Reading one verse each night to "pass off scripture reading" is not why God gave us the commandment. But daily scripture study is a commandment from God, because through it we can progress. I love how real the scriptures are - scriptures always speak exactly to our condition. I love how relateable the Book of Mormon is to our exact needs. Scripture reading is just one example, but we must constantly strive to keep the gospel not only in our head, but also in our hearts, so that we can BECOME. 

Anyway, we had a wonderful, yet STRANGE week.. Lots of just weird things happening, but all in all - all is well!!! Yesterday I am sitting in sacrament meeting after a beautiful peaceful administration of the sacrament.. And the 1st counselor in the branch presidency gets up, announces who is speaking and then says, "then we will have a solo singing musical number from Sister Nydegger." WHAT??????????????????? Or this week we were contacting and an old grandpa stops and asks me why I have a weird accent.. I told him I was from America, and with wide eyes and the Slovenian country pride, asks what I think about the beautiful Slovenian country.. I tell him it is beautiful and I love it! And he leans in to whisper something and says, "It is beautiful just like you!" He then goes in for a kiss and I quickly turned my head in fear, which thankfully he only got a kiss on the cheek.. ahhh.....MISSIONARY LIFE IS SO FUN... It brings so much laughing with all of the awkward things we do!! We were walking home on Friday and I saw a man in a wheel chair trying to wheel himself home, while carrying a bag in his hand. I could tell he was struggling, as the bag would rip a little every time it hit his wheel.. so I ran up to him and I don't really know what happened - I must have scared him or something because he took his bag and quickly guarded it with his whole body, and put his head down to not even look at me.. I tried to say something to him, but as soon as I turned my head he then rolled off as fast as possible... Sister Redding and I just looked at each other.. not quite sure what to say.. Sometimes being a "good-nice-person-trying-to-help-those-around-you" is so awkward.. but fun :) 

This week we also went to visit a cute family in the branch here. After visiting with them for a while, I was reminded of how impressed I am with the faith these members have. I am working among such strong faithful members. I hope to one day be as faithful as them.  This family lives about 50 minutes away and drives to church each Sunday. We got to their house, and she asked us if we could help her try to start learning English. She said that she was praying and felt so strongly that she needs to learn English, so that she can understand the things in the temple better. So now, she is trying to learn English. They also had a book at their house with pictures of the Salt Lake temple grounds. I quickly opened the book and explained pictures of my home to them. There was a picture of Dad's work building in the book, and I showed that that was where my Dad worked! With big eyes, she said, "Around that many members of the church??" I said yes, there are lots of church members there.. And with the biggest smile she said, "Oh your family must be so blessed with so many blessings because he works with so many members of the church." The members here find so many reasons to be grateful, and are so faithful -  faithful in the little things. I love them with all of my heart.

The past few days we have been trying to do street boarding with the starešini in center... While we were doing it all day on Saturday, there was a man next to us playing his guitar all day long as well. When we were cleaning up our stands, I walked over to him to tell him he had a great talent and that I enjoyed listening to him play all day. He quickly heard my american accent, and asked where I was from and how I knew Slovene! I told him I was from America, and of course he asks, "Do you know Country Road??" (All Slovenes LOVE that song.) I laughed and told him yes of course, and before I knew it, he handed me a microphone and expected me to start singing with him. I did, and Starešina Lewis came and joined me.. People walking by would clap and listen, and kept taking pictures of us and filming us singing Country Roads.. We felt famous :) I ended up singing a few other songs with him, and after I testified to him that God gives us talents because he loves us and that I was grateful he choose to share his talent that day. 

country road... take me home... to the place...

I love my mission.. and I love the people here. I love my Savior and I am so grateful for this opportunity I have to be a missionary. 

Drži se :)
Imam vas rada....
Z ljubeznijo, Sestra N

Finally retired these shoes after A LOT of miles.

My friend Ursa!  She is in charge of Family History Work.  I love her.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Evidences or Excuses

Hello everyone! Another great week here in Ljubljana.. It was a hard week and slow at times, but it is so important that we don't dwell on those things - the lessons that fall through, or the people that did not listen.. but focus on the miracles that do happen everyday! This week was full of many miracles. Attitude is so key, and I feel like I am learning a valuable lesson of always choosing to see the positive. On days that are hard, I always lay down at night and think of the things that were miracles from the day. It is true, that MIRACLES ARE ALWAYS AROUND if we try to look for them. 

We had zone conference this week in Maribor! It was a wonderful meeting, where we all left more motivated to find people to teach and baptize. One thing that I loved, was President Grant talked a lot about EVIDENCES. We must constantly provide evidence to our mind to strengthen our faith. We spent a lot of time sharing "evidence" we have seen on our missions.. Whether it is in the scriptures where the Lord fulfills his promise. Or evidence that we have seen in our personal life, where a blessing was fulfilled, or evidence that God is there and knows the work here.. Or trials are evidence, that the Lord feels we are prepared to grow more. There are always evidences of faith to be seen. Helaman 5:50 says, "They did go forth and ministered unto the people, all the things which they had seen and heard, and the Lamanites were convinced of them, because of the greatness of EVIDENCES which they had received. 

An evidence I saw this week, was with one of our investigators. She had accepted a baptismal date about a month and a half ago, and about three weeks ago we lost complete contact with her. We kept trying to find her, but failed. This last Saturday, as I was brushing my teeth, the thought came to me to fast tomorrow so that we could at least hear from her - whether that meant she was no longer interested, we just wanted to hear from her. I told Sister Redding, and she agreed to join me. So on Sunday we fasted and prayed to just hear from her. Monday night came around and we were making cookies for the zone conference cookie contest, and as I had flour and dough all over my hands, the phone started to ring. Sister Redding and I glanced over at the phone and saw her name!!!! We both scrambled to answer the phone because we were SO excited.. which caused the phone to fall off the table and all the pieces fell out.....bummer..  

We quickly put it back together and the elders called us and told us that their lesson fell through and they felt inspired to go to the library in center to talk with people.. when they saw our investigator walk by.. They chased her down and asked where she had been and told her that we missed her! It ended up being that she just got home from vacation in Austria about an hour ago, and just tried to call us.. We quickly phoned her and she said she misses us and has been thinking about us also, and agreed to set up with us once her tests finish, in September. It was an evidence of faith that the Lord heard our prayers and fasting. He is truly aware of us and our righteous desires. 

Another sign of evidence - this week while contacting in the Tivoli Park, we stopped a man and his young son and asked him what brings him happiness. He told us that was a personal question, and soon got very emotional. I gave him a hug as he told us that his wife passed away 5 years ago that day, and he was still aching from it. You could see the pain in his eyes and the hurt he still feels. We testified to him of God's plan, and he ended up talking with us for about 20 minutes. We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet with us again - we are faithful that we can help add hope into his life as we try to meet with him again. 

Last night, we met with a young man who has been investigating the church for four years now - he is more active in the church then some of the actual members! We met with him and asked him what he knows to be true.. This turned into a long discussion of all of the faults he finds in our church. We lost control of the lesson and ended up listening to him and trying to help share insight.  He did say that he feels it is true, he feels peace as he reads the Book of Mormon, he feels the spirit when he takes the sacrament, BUT....... And then would go off on something else. Sister Redding and I ended up telling him about the talk by Elder Andersen where he says, "It's true isn't it? What else matters?" It made me think a lot about excuses. Excuses weaken the human potential. One scripture I love is in 1 Nephi 3:5-7. This is when Nephi and his brothers are commanded to go to Laban to get the plates. I love that in these verses Nephi says, this is a HARD thing, but it is a commandment from the Lord, so I will go and do the things which he commands. Nephi could have said, "This is too hard" or "I am not good enough" or "my brothers are murmuring, so I will murmur too." But he didn't - there was no room for an excuse. I could say, "Oh missionary work is hard.. people are not listening." Or I can remember Nephi's example and say, "Sometimes commands from the Lord ARE hard, but I will GO and DO." We can always find a reason to murmur with excuses, but when we remember that "it is true, what else matters" we will find strength to go and do the things which the Lord has commanded. That is the great thing about the gospel - with the Lord we can do all things, and not fail! 

I sure love you all, thank you for your love and prayers. 
Love, Sestra Nydegger 

Land of the fairytale

Rocking the fanny pack!

Member missionaries advertising for us!

Competition in the park.

Nicer city bikes!

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Put your shoulder to the wheel!

Zivijo in dobro jutro vsi! Imeli smo dober teden tukaj v Ljubljani! I constantly keep finding myself pondering on how great the Lord is, that he sends us to our exact missions with certain circumstances so that we can learn and grow in the way that we PERSONALLY need to. 

So first off, I am so lucky to be working with so many great missionaries here in Slovenia - we are all best friends and I love them so much! They surprised me last Monday and for my birthday and planned a fun day for us. A little sidenote: every Sunday night during the Sunday night district leader call, they ask for orders. We usually don't ever have anything to order so for the longest time on my mission, when they ask for orders, I order something off of the Cafe Rio menu - (I MISS MEXICAN FOOD.) Anyway, it is always a joke but my district knows how much I miss it! So Monday came around, and after emails we headed to the church and I found the Kranj and Ljubljana Elders cooking.. THEY MADE ME HOME MADE CAFE RIO - ARE THEY NOT THE BEST? I was so happy I could cry!!!!!!! They then gave me my birthday gifts, which included the "20 faces of Sister Nydegger." They made a book of literally 20 of the ugliest pictures cropped on my face, and put them into a book. We were laughing so hard.. And then they bought me a Slovene World Cup jersey with the number 20 on it, and then we played indoor soccer, in the church parking lot for the whole day. And then a gift of 20 mentos.. Hahaha I pound those things out here while contacting and tracting all day! It was such a fun day, I seriously have the BEST companion and district!

Then the rest of the week consisted of the usual contacting! We had great conversations with many people.. One specifically really touched me. We went up to this lady who was sitting on the bench, and we started talking with her. She quickly put up the "ne hvala" finger, indicating she was not interested. I decided to ask her a language question then, hoping we could at least talk with her for a little. I asked her how to pronounce a word that was in the Book of Mormon, so then of course she was wondering what religion we were apart of.. good tactic huh? :) Anyway, we ended up talking with her and she told us she is Muslim. We contact a lot of Muslims, and I have learned from experience that it is best to not focus directly on Jesus Christ at first, but focus on the covenants we make with God. As we were talking to her about prayer and how we strengthen our relationship with God, she slowly opened up more and started to truly listen to what we are saying. I asked her what she does to strengthen her relationship with God, and she said currently nothing. I told her that one way we strengthen or relationship with Him is going to church each Sunday. I then felt prompted to boldly testify to her of the sacrament and of Christ's atoning sacrifice. I told her that I was aware we had different perspectives of Christ, but that I know that when He was on the earth, he suffered and died for us.. and he knows us personally. And that he is our SAVIOR. And that we go to church each Sunday to remember him and his sacrifice. At the end of our contact, she said she will try to come to church in the next few weeks, so that she can come to know more who Christ was. The spirit was strong in that contact, and I know it was because God was guiding us to say exactly what she needed to hear. 

This week for personal studies, I have been thinking and studying a lot about WORK. I am grateful for my parents, who taught me at a young age the importance of working hard... But I wish I would have grasped the concept of working hard sooner. I feel like I have really come to know what it means to WORK on my mission. The Lord says, "Behold this is my WORK and my glory.." The fullness of the gospel is work! Missionary work.. temple work.. It is work! Work is a spiritual neccessity in our lives. 

Growing up, I remember often being told by my parents, "not to cut corners." For example, I remember so many Saturday mornings, doing yard work.. And how many times my Dad would come inspect my area after, and say that I did not do a good enough job. As much as I would not like to admit, this happened often! Then before I knew it, I would be back on my hands and knees, feeling so frustrated re-weeding that area once again.. actually pulling out the roots this time. I remember one day, my Dad asked me to mow the lawn.. I had done it a few times before, but usually it would end up with my brother going back and getting the areas I missed, once I finished. I remember though, one day I was so determined to do a good job. It took me a few hours, but once I finsihed I was so excited for my dad to get home from work to see it. I will never forget how good it felt to finally hear those words with a pat on the back, "Good job Kates!! The lawn looks great." I imagine that is what it will be like in the next life as well.. At the judgement seat, there is not going to be any room for cutting corners.. There is no easy way in to the Celestial kingdom - we have to constantly repent and continue to renew our convenants with God that we have made. We will be accountable for all of our shortcomings and sins.. But because of the Atonement and because of our Savior, we can still hear those powerful words in the end, "Well done thou good and faithful servant" if we do work and strive towards that now. 

When I was in the MTC, I remember thinking.. "Oh I will actually learn Slovene, once I am in Slovenia!" Shortly after being here for a few months, I quickly learned that was not true. If I wanted to excel and grow in the Slovenian language, I had to study.. I had to work on learning new words, and practice using the cases and grammar structure. I had to work hard to try to speak what I did know. It was hard, but there are no short cuts to learning a language. Or I am continually learning that if I want to teach people, there is no cutting corners... I have to go out and with faith, talk to EVERYONE. 

Learning how to WORK is an important skill that we must all strive to obtain.. Diligence is a Christ-like attribute, because we need to learn the importance of working and being wise with our time. I am grateful for the ability to work! We all can "put our shoulder to the wheel" and push! Like that song says, the world has need of willing men or women who will WORK. There is nothing that feels so great, as getting home each night, taking off my shoes, knowing that I gave my all that day. 

Have a great, hard-working week!! Even if it is hot and your literally constantly sweating like me... so embarrassing.. I know.

We went out to contact in the morning, and an hour later came back for lunch.. I took of my bag and found this - it is SO HUMID HERE I am constantly WET 

Much love - Sestra Nydegger 
Master dragging his poor dog around during heat of the day.  I know how you feel dog.  I know how you feel!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ljubljana, Slovenia: GRATEFUL

HI EVERYONE - HI HI HI THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THE BIRTHDAY EMAILS... I also received a few packages this week and lots of handwritten letters.  Thanks for making me feel loved! And FAMILY.. I think the highlight of my whole birthday is watching you guys singing happy birthday in SLOVENE!!!! I am smiling so big right now. Hahahaha you guys did so great at trying to speak it. I will show you one day the correct way ;) But I love you all so much and I feel so grateful right now. I will do my best to respond to everyone, but if I run out of time, know that I LOVE YOU and am so grateful for you all!! 

This week was a GREAT WEEK. The highlight of my week is that Sister Redding and I are now BIKING MISSIONARIES!!! We have had these old nasty bikes in the Kranj basement.. and we decided that because Ljubljana is so big, and we waste so much time waiting for buses.. missing the bus.. walking around trying to get places.. that we are going to use the bikes! So we freshened them up to the best of our ability.. And they are working great!!!!!! They sure are old.. and we have to pump up the tires after every use.. But we got our night reflectors and helmets and we love them! A member saw us riding them through center the other day and took this picture of us.. Hahaha we look ridiculous but hey it is more effective so it works!!!!

Our first night with the bikes was a little traumatic.. We figured it out now, but it was a little bit of a struggle.. Bikes in calf length skirts are not as easy as it looks! We were riding home after spending the night in a park contacting. It was almost 9 so we were hurrying home, so that we could make it home on time. As we were riding, a huge bug flew into my eye.. And there were other bikes behind me (In Slovenia there is a side walk and a road for the bikes.. and then the street. And you can get fined if you don't obey the street for bikes rule)  But anyway, we were riding in that lane and there were bikers behind me.. So I couldn't stop to try to get the bug out. So I figured I would keep riding, we only had about 15 more minutes to go. So I closed shut one eye and kept riding. I tried riding one handed and use my finger because I could literally feel the bug in my eye.. But I just figured I would get it out once we got home! Anyways, I kept saying hello and goodnight to people I passed who were walking and just kept riding with one eye shut. Well we finally made it home, and I turned around and asked Sister Redding to help me because a bug was in my eye, before we went down to the garage to put the bikes away.. She bursted out laughing SO hard and asked how long it had been there! Well... this picture can describe what happened. 

Whoops!! OH WELL still smiling!!! But now after a week of biking, we are PRO and we love them! 

This week I had a BAD language miscommunication. Sister Redding and I are trying to get to know the members better here.. So I have been trying to set up meetings with them. Well a few weeks ago a member told me she would call me in a few weeks when she had time for us to come. On Wednesday during studies she called and asked if we were busy. All we had planned that day was contacting, so we told her we had time! Meanwhile, our phone here has a broken speaker so it is hard to hear.. and that on top of Slovene it is very difficult! She told us her address and to come over around 2. Then I heard something about potatoes so I figured she was feeding us lunch! Well we got there after being on a train for an hour.. And she told us we could go change in the bathroom into our work clothes.. I confusedly told her that we did not bring them. And she asked if we at least brought shoes to switch. I told her no.. And she looked at me so confused. And I told her that I maybe was not quite understanding what was happening. And she then re-explained to me what I agreed to do on the phone.. But we were going to spend the afternoon in her dirt garden, harvesting potatoes! Whoooooops. Sister Redding still wasn't quite understanding everything that was going on, so I quickly explained to her the situation and we both agreed that we would just do it in our skirt and all! We ended up being there for a few hours in the heat and dirt, pulling weeds and picked potatoes and sorting them... sweaty and happy! The cute member at least insisted that we borrowed some shoes so that they did not get ruined. But skirt, sneakers and all, we made it work and had a great time with those sweet members. 

Also this week we did more chalk with the elders!!! We wrote on the street, "Kaj vam prinaša srečo?" We would stop people and asked them to write in chalk what they are grateful for in life. We ended up doing it for about 5 hours because we were getting so many people to stop! And it is a great activity for not only Slovenes, but tourists as well. Most of the answers were in Slovene, but we also had many different answers in different langauges and alphabets. Two of my favorite answers were 1) Milka Chocolate.. 2) In slovene a lady wrote, "Crazy Americans who make us answer these weird questions." :) 

After they would write their answer, we would tell them what we were grateful for. And it led to so many great conversations. I am SO GRATEFUL!!! I am grateful for happy people.. I am grateful for air conditioning. I am grateful for fruit snacks from America (you are the best Mom!) I am grateful for bikes and exercise.. I am grateful for my sweet companion and district who have planned a surprise birthday PDAY!! We will see what happens :) I am grateful for MUSIC and how we can share our testimonies by using our talents. I am grateful for challenges - they always bring us blessings and help us to draw closer to our Savior, no matter how hard they may be. I am grateful for the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for this time which I have to be a missionary and represent our Savior Jesus Christ. I am grateful that these relationships we have on the earth, are eternal and never end!! Hvaležna sem za VSE!!! THERE IS SO MUCH TO BE GRATEFUL FOR.. Count your many blessings - we are so blessed. 

THANKS FOR YOUR PRAYERS AND LOVE... I am grateful for them, they keep me going.. Thanks for cheering me on! 

Imam vas rada :) Sister Nydegger 

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Round 2!

HI - SO FIRST someone please go grab a maple bar donut and a buttermilk donut.. and think of me!!!!!! I hope you are all having a great time in Newport with all the cousins, and eating lots of donuts.. Pastries and treats are sooo yummy here, but I would be lying if I said I was not wishing I was eating one of the seaside donuts right now! ;) 

We had a great week here in Ljubljana!! We felt like the men on "Holes".. It was up in the 100s again and all of a sudden it started pouring rain and was lightening and thundering and we all just ran out in the rain and soaked it in.. It cooled down for the rest of the week though which was so nice. 

So this week I really came to feel the spirit of Elijah and my testimony was strengthened of family history - this work is SO important. Sister Kropushek and I had the opportunity to meet with the Kropushek family here in Slovenia. And although Slovenia is the world's tiniest country and you can literally drive from one end to the other in 3 hours... there are only 2 big freeways, and the rest are little tiny streets through beautiful green fields and villages. We were a little worried because we did not have  a GPS and it is so easy to get lost on these skinny long streets. We prayed for guidance and help and we somehow made it. The spirit was so strong as we testified to her family and got to know them a little bit better. I translated into Slovene and we gave them a Book of Mormon. It was a beautiful moment and tender to watch two complete strangers, embrace as family. They gave us information of a cemetery and we found headstones with the Kropušek name on it.. More information for family search!  

The missionaries planned a finding activity for the branch this week, called "Spoznate Mormoni!" or "Meet the Mormons!" We were able to get a copy of the movie, and had a member translate it into Slovene through headsets.. And we had some members share their amazing experiences. It was a little crazy planning everything, but it turned out being great. Only members ended up coming, but it was a good bonding experience. We ended with a testimony meeting after where the spirit was very present. I bore my testimony on how amazing the GOSPEL is!!! It is so wonderful, that wherever we are in the world.. Whether we are born in Salt Lake City, Slovenia, Nepal, or New York.. The gospel is the same. We are all brothers and sisters of our loving Father in Heaven. The gospel may be new in some areas, or be flourishing with temples and stakes in other areas, but it is all the same. We are all here with the same purpose, to return back to live with our Heavenly Father.

Fore-ordination is such a wonderful thing. I have such a strong testimony that everything that happens is because God has a plan. But I also have such a strong testimony that there are many things and purposes that we were foreordained to do while we are here on the earth. We were sent to earth to do things, and as we live correctly and faithfully, we will fulfill them. And although we do not remember our pre-mortal life, we did agree to fulfill significant tasks in the service of our Father. And as we prove ourselves worthy, we will be given opportunities to fulfill the assignments we received. Of that principle, I testified to the members here. That there is a reason they are here in Slovenija, where the church is so new. They have the capacity to help this growth and that we must all stay strong and work together. 

I know that there is a reason I am here in the Adriatic North Mission. It was a sweet experience to watch my companion, about to go home - in her last week of her mission, figure out one of her reasons she was here, as we found some of her family. I am grateful for divine inspired guidance from the Lord. 

We have transfers tomorrow, and I am staying in Ljubljana to work with Sister Redding! We were in a trio together, so we already know each other pretty well and I look forward to learning from her and growing together. I look forward to getting to know this branch better as well, as I am more settled here. 

Have a fun week in the sun!!!! I sure love you all. 
Love, Sestra Nydegger

Good luck to Hermana Stringham this week.. I love you Sar! Hurrah for Peru - you are amazing! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY WEEK to Eden... This year, we are celebrating from Ecuador to Slovenia.. WOOT WOOT! I love you! I feel so grateful for both of your examples.