Monday, February 22, 2016

Lubljana, Slovenia: že sem stara

Dobro jutro in živijo! For the past three weeks or so, Ljubljana has been trapped in this fog and rain and FINALLY YESTERDAY it cleared up and we saw the sun! It was the highlight of the week.. It truly is the best when Sunday really is the sunniest day of the week :) 

My favorite part of the week was on Saturday.. Our lesson fell through which lead to the usual back up plan, CONTACTING! So we walked around center and talked with sooo many people. But my favorite contact was when we met 8 people from Dad's mission! They were the friendliest people and just kept telling us how different South Africa was from Slovenia.. Once I told them that my Dad lived there for 2 years, doing what I do here in Slovenia, they just kept hugging me over and over again. They addressed me four times in that contact as "my little sweetie.." It was the kindest thing! Sister Duffy and I walked away after that contact feeling SO loved... 

We also have been tracting a little bit more and trying to switch things up, and I am telling you - if you want to laugh your head off for hours or are ever having a bad day, just go into a huge tall communist-like apartment building in Slovenia, and go share the gospel. On Friday, we had not really been let in, let alone even got passed the line of we are missionaries and have a message... but on our last door before going home for dinner, a 95 year old lady answered............ she insisted that we come in - and after about 10 minutes she could not really even remember who we were.. but did not want us to leave. Or on Saturday a lady opens the door just a crack, explaining that she had no clothes on, another opens the door with a million cats, or one sweet older man kept trying to open the door, but could not get the door open because of the lock and after about 5 minutes of trying said he was so sorry but we would have to come back another time, or you have the people who answer the door and don't speak a lick of Slovene or English and you sit there trying to act out who you are, or the doors that open and you are immediately encompassed with smoke and can't see anything... Or a lady who you testify and teach about the Book of Mormon and when you ask her to start reading comes up with the excuse that she actually is blind and just shuts the door so fast. Or when you are sitting there waiting for them to open the door, and the hallway light goes off and when they eventually open the door, you and your companion are sprinting down the hall to get the light on and just end up looking like fools.. I'm telling you - nothing makes you laugh harder. 

We had MLC this week and also zone conference, where we talked a lot about the restoration. At MLC we were really trying to perfect our teaching of the first vision and President Grant had a few of us stand up and teach it in about 2 minutes with the recited first vision. And whether it was in English, Slovene, Croatian, Bosnian, or Serbian - the spirit was so present. We had some time to ponder about it and truly think that Joseph Smith really did see the father and the son. How incredible is that? And not only that, but he heard our Heavenly Father speak - "Joseph, this is my beloved son. Hear him!" I am so grateful for the restoration and for the many blessings that we have because of it. 

People from my MTC zone.
Also this week I was reading in 2 Nephi 28. It is talking a lot about Satan's power. One thing I have really come to learn on my mission is the reality of Satan. Last week, we knelt down with an investigator to pray and ask if these things were true, and while we were praying, she just stopped.. And said she couldn't do it. She literally said that her "words were choked and could not speak to ask." She felt scared. It was one of the most tangible experiences I have felt of Satan's power. In that chapter in the Book of Mormon it says that Satan will stir up the hearts in anger.. He will tell people they don't need the word of God.. He will tell people "All is well".. I really tried to apply that to myself. Satan tries to make companionships angry with each other.. or he will say all is well, go take a break, you've worked hard your whole mission, you can stop now! He wants us to FAIL. It is really sad, because we have seen the opposition really working on our investigators, and the are falling "into his lull." But what is also so amazing, is that we know God's power will ALWAYS overcome Satan's. 

Before Joseph saw two personages, he was overcome with darkness and fear. But he stayed strong to the faith, and because of that, he participated in the event that CHANGED THE WORLD. What would have happened if he gave into the darkness around him? If only we could be better at pushing out those thoughts from the adversary. "Pray always that you may come off conqueror, yea that you may conquer Satan." 

I am grateful for the power of strength. I am grateful that lightness will ALWAYS overcome darkness.. no matter how dark times may seem, that God's light will always overpower. 

Also, the Elders have a baptism this week!!!!!! PLEASE Pray for him that everything goes through! It is someone who has been investigating for 6 months and used to smoke 40+ cigarettes a day. Once again an AMAZING miracle and proof THE GOSPEL CHANGES US TO BE BETTER AND BETTER. 

Have a good week! 
Lep pozdrav, Sestra Nydegger

Attempt to cook steak

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Are we putting God first?

Hi family! Time seems to be going faster and faster.. I just am doing my best to catch on to it and hold it in my hands and soak it up.. We had a great week. Tuesday night, Sister Duffy and I were walking home and I proudly told her how I have not gotten sick on my mission and it has been AMAZING... and then I think the Lord wanted to remind me of the importance of humility - I feel like I am relearning that lesson over and over again - or the public buses, jammed pack with people, and constant shaking peoples hands finally got to me - but I woke up Tuesday morning super sick. I am doing a little bit better now, but it was a good reminder to me this week how much happier we are, when we can truly forget ourselves and serve others. I am grateful for that. 

We have a good teaching pool right now.  For some reason they all still are listening to the lessons... but not really progressing. And this week it was so amazing, to see how the Lord helped us with the spirit of discernment to figure out what is stopping them from progressing. And for two of our investigators it comes down to REALLY PUTTING GOD AND HIS CHURCH FIRST. I was thinking this week of the story of Abraham.. How he finally received the desires of his heart and had a son. And then how the Lord asked him to give him back, and how HARD that must have been. Abraham is such a great example of faith and love for the Lord.. and luckily the Lord blessed him because of that faith - but it shows the importance of needing to always put the Lord first.

We have an investigator who is really desiring to be baptized.. she knows it is true.. but she works on Sundays and cannot attend the church services. We shared the story of Abraham with her and knelt down and prayed with her to ask if she should quit her job and look for a new one. She is fearful that she will not be able to support herself or her family if she quits her job on Sunday... there is fear in her faith. We knelt down and prayed together.. the Spirit was so thick. We waited after in silence for a few minutes and finally asked her how she felt. She said she felt so peaceful. We helped her recognize that that is an answer from Heavenly Father.. peace is a gift from the spirit! She recognized it and agreed that maybe she needed to quit her job, and TRULY PUT GOD FIRST. But soon, fear crept in again and she went back to saying that would never be possible. I just started to cry - I don't know if they were tears of frustration, seeing that I have worked with her for 6 months now and she is just SO close.. or if they were tears of sadness because I know that Heavenly Father will bless her.. Sister Duffy and I told her that it is hard, being 20 years old and asking someone twice our age to quit her job.. It is uncomfortable because we don't quite understand what it is like, having to provide for ourselves.. But we testified to her, that as a representative of Christ, we teach and testify and promise for our Heavenly Father.. and we KNOW that the Lord will bless her if she shows Him, her faith. The spirit then testified to my heart, the power of my call and helped give me greater confidence. We talked about the pioneers.. and how many of their families died because they put God first - but they were blessed. As we walked out of the lesson, she looked at us and with the most sincerity said, "this is going to be hard, but I need to put God first." I really pray and hope that she will not forget that spirit she felt, giving her motivation to put God first.  Please join me in praying that she will be able to find a new job. 

Also this week we met with another one of our investigators.. She told us that she prefers not just having to sit and talk for a lesson, but asked if we could teach her as we went on a hike - we agreed to give it a try! It was a good idea and all, until we realized how hard it is to hike up a steep hill and teach at the same time, without running out of breath! It ended up being a little silly.. but it worked :) And then we met later during the week again for a sit down lesson at the church, where we could point out the spirit a little bit better. She knows the bible VERY WELL.. better than we know it.. and on our hike she asked some questions that we did not know how to answer. So we studied them, and then for our next lesson we started off by showing her what we found in the bible. It almost started turning into a "bible bashing" situation, which we tried to avoid at every case. So we quickly switched and just taught and testified of the Book of Mormon.. and it ended up making sense to her. She agreed to start studying and reading the Book of Mormon.. and pondering how she feels as she reads it with the Bible. It was a good reminder to me, that the Book of Mormon really is the KEYSTONE to our religion.. and when in doubt, we can testify of it and its truthfulness and it will always bring the spirit. 

I am doing well.. I just feel a really sweet, calm, happy spirit and I love missionary work and I love these people here.. They make me laugh so much and I just am SO HAPPY AND GRATEFUL - my heart is very full! These are such special times to me and these moments have strengthened me in ways I could not even imagine.. "This is the day which the Lord hath made -- rejoice, and be glad in it." 


Love, Sestra Nydegger 

a little too tired to make it home 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ljubljana, Slovenia: KROF

HI FAM! This will be super fast today, so sorry if I don't get time to respond to everyone.. In Slovenia they like to celebrate the death of a long time poet, and they close everything down.. and run around in crazy costumes for the week long Holiday of Pust! And not only little kids.. but all ages.. ranging from 0 to 90.  They all dress up in awesome costumes this week - ANYWAY which causes us the need to email on Tuesdays.. 

But TRANSFERS... Sister Duffy and I will be staying here together in Ljubljana!!!!!!!!! I am now officially a Ljubljančanka... (I will still forever be a Celjčanka at heart though) Lots of mixed emotions but Sister Duffy and I are so excited to work together and give our all these next several weeks. 

OK some highlights for this week.. 

KROF and more krof!!! Pust is the holiday here that scares off winter and they eat soo many donuts.. And the prices start off very high, but then by the end of the week they are almost free! So we have been having fun with some yummy Slovenian donuts.. and with huge sheep troll like things running around.. 

 We sang "God be with you till we meet again" at church on Sunday.. And I cannot tell you how happy it makes me every time.. Not only because I am so grateful that I can be with these amazing people forever and all eternities.. but also because Slovenes LOVE THIS SONG. They close their eyes.. they sway their heads back and forth.. and they sing it with all they can.. It makes my heart melt every time! 

Funniest conversation of the week - "Hi we are missionaries and we want to know what makes you happy!" "Me??? What makes ME happy? Well if you were 75 and looked THIS beautiful you'd be happy too!" *walks off with her cheetah high heels and bright pink lipstick..* 

We had a powerful district meeting.. Where something was said that really stood out to me.. Elder Brown said how much easier it is to do something hard once someone says, "I believe in you!" or "I know you can do it!" And then he reminded us that HEAVENLY FATHER BELIEVES IN US... He called me to this mission and believes in me to have a successful mission here. I am called and set apart under his authority.. Shouldn't that be my motivation every day? As simple as it is, it is easy to forget. I love the simple truth that with God we can do all things.. 

I got an email last week reminding me to focus on the Savior's life.. To really think about him EVERYDAY. And especially to focus on his last moments of his life, because that is when he gave truly EVERYTHING he had. And I really have been trying to follow that example, and to finish my mission life thinking about our Savior and how he finished his mortal life. And it has been amazing.. as I do so I feel greater devotion to my Savior and find so much gratitude in his perfect character. I am so grateful for his perfect example of someone we should strive to be.  

"I must decrease, so that he can increase."

I truly feel that way. I have learned so much about being humble and letting Heavenly Father lead me and guide me. I have such a strong testimony that the more we put the natural man away, natural desires, and as we turn to Heavenly Father and let him into our life WE WILL FIND THE GREATEST AMOUNT OF PEACE AND HAPPINESS THAT WE COULD EVER FIND. He can mold us and shape us exactly into who we need to be. I invite you all to find ways to "decrease" even more - to change that one weakness into a strength with his help, to repent more, to give up something that is not align with the gospel - so that Heavenly Father can increase more and help us a little bit more on the path of progression. 

Sestra Nydegger 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Stand Blameless

Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii everyone :) This week was a little CRAZY - but nonetheless, still wonderful. Soooo President Grant called Tuesday morning during studies, and said that a sister was needing to go home and that there would be some "emergency transfers." SO LONG STORY SHORT Sister Higgins got sent down to Croatia, and I am now BACK in Ljubljana with Sister Duffy, whose companion got sent down to Bosnia! Change is great though.. and luckily it does not matter where we serve, but how we serve.

Going to miss the Maribor district.  Sisters and moving out!

Prettiest area I have served in.

Being back in Ljubljana is so great.. It actually feels like I never left. We are still teaching the same people that I taught when I was here and I am excited to work with Sister Duffy. We both love singing and music so we are always harmonizing and singing and laughing.. And the members have been so happy and so loving to me - but we will find out this week what will happen for next transfer! 

Linger Longers - ubiquitous church tradition!
Ok soo many amazing things happened this week.. Before Sister Duffy and I go to bed, we share our favorite thing from the day.. And we end up staying up and talking FOREVER because there have just been so many amazing things! 

So before I left Maribor and said 'bye' to Sister Higgins.. we had an interview! We got asked a few weeks ago if we would participate in an interview and so we got permission from President Grant, and told them we would love to help with an interview. It was such a cool experience! She asked so many great questions which gave us opportunities to testify to her. My favorite question was when she asked if we like Slovenia and how we decided to come here. I testified to her the power of missionary calls coming through our prophet.. And that I love Slovenia so so much, because I love what I am doing while I am here. Then we spent the rest of the day packing up the apartment and saying goodbye to Maribor!

On Wednesday (now in Ljubljana), we met up with Urška for a lesson.. After she realized she lost her phone. We searched for a while, but could not find it - so we decided to pray with her.. sadly we still could not find it and institute class was starting. About an hour later, Urška came out of the class and said I keep thinking I need to look in my car. So we went out to her car and OF COURSE.. we found it :) It was a great experience together and really showed her that God will answer our prayers. I am so thankful for the power of prayer. 

On Thursday, we went to have a lesson with someone who is still investigating.. but just not really progressing. She does what we ask, except come to church because she does not believe in institution. As we were walking into the lesson with her, Sister Duffy and I could tell that what we planned was not correct. We went and waited for a little and said a prayer, and we both so strongly felt that we needed to talk about faith. We got in there and asked her what she was doing to show God that she has faith.. she was not sure. We ended up having a really powerful lesson with her and we all felt dedicated to show our faith more to our Heavenly Father. 

This week during personal study, I was reading from the Book of Mormon and something stood out to me, that I have never really noticed before. I was reading in Alma 24.. And the anti-nephi-lehies did not want to fight anymore, so they agreed to put down their weapons. They had been brought to the knowledge that killing and bloodshed was bad.. and so even when they knew that people would come attack them soon, they did not want to sin anymore. They found it so amazing that God could forgive them of their sins, and they were SO CONVERTED to that.. that they would give up their lives. When the Lamanites came to attack them, they just prayed to God.. and it says that 1000s of them were killed. That really hit me. That must have taken so much faith. It really shows that the anti-nephi-lehies understood what repentance is. It made me think of how many times I have repented over and over again for the same things.. And after reading this passage, it inspired me to be more like those faithful people.. Who understood true repentance, and ended up giving their lives so that they could STAND BLAMELESS BEFORE GOD. We must become more devoted and more converted so that we too can repent, so that we can stand blameless. I hope to be better and follow their examples of true repentance. 

I am so thankful for repentance. The more I study it, the more I come to realize how important it is.. and how we are NOT TO PROCRASTINATE. It is so critical to conversion. I love that we are being told right now as missionaries to really focus on "preaching repentance and baptizing converts."  I love that because of repentance we can feel clean, we can feel guilt free, the burden of sins and unrighteousness are literally lifted off of our shoulders. What relief, comfort, and joy. The atonement of Jesus Christ is real - He lives. 

Welllll thank you for your love and support - you are my biggest fans and I sure love you! 
Love, Sestra N 

ALSO THIS WEEK GUESS WHAT WE FOUND OUT.. DAVID ARCHULETA IS COMING TO OUR MISSION TO DO A CONCERT AND THE MISSIONARIES ARE HELPING COORDINATE IT........ AND IT IS TWO WEEKS AFTER I LEAVE................. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh everytime someone tells me I should extend and stay so that I can be here for it, I tally it down and add a dollar to my Cafe Rio fund for when I get home.... so that I can eat something yummy as I cry because I wont be here... 

Notice our footwear as we cleaned the Church!

American food from Aunt Becky's friend!
district inside joke