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.