Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ljubljana, Slovenia: My Waters of Mormon!

Pozdravljeni moja družina! 

We have had the BEST week ever.... However, I will tell you all about it in person SOOOOOOON :) 

Wellllllllll  this email will probably be very long so brace yourselves. I just never want to forget how I feel right now. My heart is very full today and this week, and I am not quite sure how to express how I feel. I have loved my mission - it has meant absolutely everything to me.

I think one of the most powerful lessons I have learned on my mission is that Christ is constantly inviting us. He is inviting us to come unto him, to repent, to change, to have hope, to be happy - he is constantly there with open arms. He invites us to COME UNTO HIM AND BE PERFECTED IN HIM. I have also learned that the closer we come to Christ, the more we love him and the more we want to be like him. And the closer I have drawn to my Savior throughout my life, the more I have grown and the more I want to share the knowledge of him with people around me. 

I remember in the MTC, they asked us to ponder about what is the greatest miracle of all time.. I remember thinking Moses and how he actually made an ocean split, and then they walked through it! Or how he turned a river into blood, and all of the other amazing miracles.. But throughout my mission, I have come to see and realize an ever greater miracle - the miracle of change. The miracle of the effects of Christ's Atonement. I love in the bible that Christ calls out to fishermen and simply says, "Follow me." And then these fishermen turn into powerful, unwavering disciples of Christ. Or in the Book of Mormon, the "vilest sinners" become powerful missionaries after a process of change and conversion. Whether it is witnessing a change in myself and my desires, or when you finally see the light of Christ just "click on" in an investigator, or a simple contact on the street as you see them eventually open up and their hearts soften as we speak of Christ - the gospel of Jesus Christ is constantly is a formula inviting us to come unto Christ and be changed. 

I know that it is only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that our weaknesses can become strengths - and only through him, can our natures be changed. I know that every challenge we face, every bad thing that happens, every sadness happens for one purpose - to give us the opportunity to respond by APPLYING the teachings of Christ - and as we do so, we are changed to become more like him. 

I have learned that the happiest we will be is when we completely, humbly, surrender to our Heavenly Father and his will. At the beginning of my mission, I really had such great desires that I would be an incredible missionary, that I would learn Slovene really well, that I would be the missionary Heavenly Father wanted me to be, that I would find people and baptize them, that I would be a hardworking missionary - which those things are all great things.. but they all were focused on ME. I will never forget the experience I had about 9 months out when I finally realized that this is not about me.. although I had great desires, I needed to forget myself. It is about doing Heavenly Father's will completely. I learned that Heavenly Father could not work with me, until I stopped trying to do it my way, and truly asked him what HE wanted me to do. When we turn to God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength - then can we be effective disciples of Christ. 

God has a perfect plan - and I am so thankful for that. He sends us to the exact missions, where we experience what we need for progression. There have been countless times on my mission, when I am talking with someone on the street, or teaching a lesson, or chatting with my companions during studies, when the Holy Ghost speaks to me and says, "This is why you are here. This is why you experienced that.. this is why I put you on this persons path." Because of these experiences, I will forever trust in him and his plan. I have been reminding myself about that lately, as something I love so dearly, and something that means so much to me is coming to an end - I remind myself that God does have a perfect plan, and because of that I will trust in Him. I do know that the greatest happiness awaits us, as we do what he desires - and because of that I go forward with faith! 

I will miss the million of bakeries everywhere, I will miss the grandmas getting upset at us for sitting on a cold bench and them claiming I will never be able to have babies now, or when they get upset because we are not wearing tights, I will miss the classic 'ne hvala' finger, or the Balkan arm rub, I will miss the long cold grey-sky winters, I will miss the pigeons everywhere, I will miss the long green hills and rivers, I will miss the dark clothing, and I think I will even miss constantly smelling like smoke maybe ;) I will miss speaking the Slovene language, which Heavenly Father has taught me countless lessons through speaking this language. I love this language so much, because I love the people who speak it. I know that the thing I will miss the most are these people. I love how they are so blunt and brutally honest, I love how you say "good day" to them on the street and it startles them that someone is talking to them, I love that health is one of the things most important to them, and I love that they love their countries. These people are so rich in their history, they cling on to it. They so badly want to hold on to their traditions, and they desire and search for stability. They want something they can trust in, and find hope in.. and I know that the stability they are searching for will come from the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love these Balkan people with my whole heart and they have taught me more than I think I could have ever taught them. 

I love in the Book of Mormon that they say the "waters of Mormon" was such a special place to the people Alma taught, because that was where they came to the knowledge or their Savior. Slovenia will forever be a sacred place to me because this is where I have truly come to know Christ.. and to recognize his voice. It is where I came to really learn the importance of not just knowing the gospel, but living the gospel. It is where I developed the desire to constantly progress and improve. It is where I came to know the power of the restoration.. and what it means in my life. It is where I came to understand how important it is that Joseph Smith was a prophet, or the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.. or the power of true sincere prayer - actual communication with our Heavenly Father. I know that everything I have testified for the last year and a half, is true.. and I am grateful to live now what I have testified of.

To see people change their lives completely, to love people from another place and culture with your whole heart, is a testimony to me that God and his son, Jesus Christ live. And they simply invite us to come unto them. I am so so thankful for these experiences and relationships, and will cherish them for the rest of my life. I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father and I pray I will be able to show him my eternal gratitude by the way I live my life... converted to his gospel. Even though we don't go on missions for ourselves, Heavenly Father stills makes sure we receive the most.. and because of that I forever want to please him.

Alma 26:16 "Let us glory in the Lord, we will rejoice for our joy is full, yea we will praise our God forever. Behold who can glory too much in the Lord? Who can say too much of his great power, his mercy, and his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."

I love you all so much. Thank you for your prayers and love.. I have felt them every day of my mission. I am absolutely heartbroken right now, yet so grateful. Yet also sooooo happy. This is TRUE JOY.  I simply feel so thankful to my Heavenly Father, my Savior, my amazing family, these amazing people here - the list goes on and on. WELL I LOVE YOU GUYS I cannot wait to see you soon.  

Z ljubeznijo, hvaležnostjo, in srečo v mojem srcu -
Sestra Nydegger 

also.. I have a million pictures and videos so I will try to send them all 

European bathrooms FYI

The Slovenian missionaries have worked REALLY hard this month to put on a big concert - there is a lot of musical talent in our zone right now... And it was a GREAT success. We had 90 people show up in our little chapel!!!!!!!!!! It was great cause I also got to say goodbye to so many people who I love.. 
The Johnsons - senior couple 


The Slovenian zone - I feel so blessed to have served along side with so many incredible missionaries!!! 

President and Sister Grant ... two of the BEST people I know. I feel like I was called to this mission merely for the fact that I could learn from these people.. 

The most AMAZING sisters!!!!!!! 

District president of Slovenia - Elvi 

My best friend SESTRA DUFFY - the greatest comp I could ask for! 

LAST DAY - Last time out contacting in Slovenia as a missionary :( So bittersweet... 

the view of our walk home...... this is my WATERS OF MORMON.... Slovenia will forever be a sacred place for me... I am so so thankful... 

The departing missionaries.. only sisters! 

SHE'S HOME!!!!! 

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post! It really spoke to me. I am an American who has long been intrigued by Slovenia. I myself am planning a trip there perhaps in July or August.
    I have been to Europe before and the churches, nature and traditions always speak to my heart. Something I want to do while there is to be baptized. I imagine it would be a truly profound experience surrounded by all the breathtaking nature of Slovenia.
    Since your time there has passed, perhaps you can/could refer me to someone who could help me fulfill this? Any information would be much appreciated, if they are open to baptizing a non Slovene(?) You are free to contact me at tschwarz0417@gmail.com

    Best wishes and thank you.