Saints, the Ministers of Sinners

ImageThis last week was an interesting/exciting one. The greatest news of the week is that Evas, his wife, and his son were baptized and confirmed this last week! I taught them when I was still very new on my mission! 
And, yesterday, before church started we were standing out in the foyer of the chapel and I saw someone come out of the coat closet that looked rather familiar. Incredulously I said, “Hannah?” Lo and behold, it was Hannah from Wels. And then, I looked up and saw Rahel, also from Wels. They were in Augsburg for a Single Adult’s activity and they were both rather surprised to see me. But it was good to see them.

We had a bit of an exciting/frustrating experience with a train and an address this last week. We were supposed to go by on a less active that lives in a place called Graben, which, if you know German, should be enough of a warning not to go there. Graben, in English, means grave, as in, where someone is buried….

So, we got to the train station a little earlier than we had anticipated and we were waiting on the Bahnsteig for our train when a train pulled up and on the screen on the Gleis it said, “Landsberg (Lech)” Which was the correct train with the correct time. And so, we got on the train and were commenting on how empty the train was. In the middle of this discussion the train began to move-ten minutes too early. 

We realized very quickly that this train was not the one we wanted and we looked at the destination and then a map and realized that we would be able to change trains in Bobingen and it would be okay. And so, we sat down again and decided to wait on this incredibly empty train. For a few moments all was well, until the train slowed down and then stopped completely. 
In the middle of nowhere. 

Confused, but, still not very worried we simply sat there and waited. Many times, trains will wait outside of stations because there’s another train in the station. But we didn’t move for several minutes. 

Soon enough, the man driving the train came out and said to us, “Was macht ihr jetzt?” 

We quickly explained that we realized we were on the wrong train and that we were looking for the train to Landsberg. He just looked at us and then, speaking to us in very poor English told us that the train was not going anywhere, that it had reached it’s end station in Augsburg and that it wasn’t going back to the station till it was needed. 

We asked how long, and he said, “About ten minutes.”

And so we waited for ten minutes…fifteen…twenty…the train we were supposed to be on went past…thirty…forty…forty-five 

FINALLY we started moving, back to the station where we started and got on the next train heading out to Graben. 

When we got to the Graben stop we got off and were greeted with a giant Amazon factory hub and nothing else.

To get to Graben you have to go to the Lagerlechfeld haltestelle and then walk two kilometers. 

We saved that for the next day considering that it was late and freezing cold. 

When we finally got to Graben we found a less active member who had no interest in coming to church, but had a ten year old daughter who had never been baptized who was VERY interested in coming to church. 

We are very excited for her because she’s excited to come to church. 

Circumstances from this week brought me to the memory of a scripture in Matthew: 

“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.

“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?

“But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 

“But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

I love this scripture because of the idea that Jesus wasn’t going to spend His life among those that were perfect, that wasn’t why He came to the world. He came to the world so that the people could be saved. 
Christ is no longer physically on the earth, but His teachings are. The teachings of life, love, hope, faith, and eternal salvation still remain on this earth. These messages are conveyed to much of the world through people. Not through words, but through actions, through kindness, and through Love.
The Lord has given this world a good bundle of saints, and I consider myself priveleged to know a few of them. He gave this world full of sinners a good bunch of saints to help make them saints. Which makes more and more saints every time a saint reaches out to a sinner. 
This past week I just realized how grateful I am to have the examples of a few saints in my life and to see their works to do what they can to help those that the Lord has entrusted to their care either become saints or remain saints. 
We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Let us wear this title proudly as we become the ministers of those who need it most.
I love you all and I am so grateful for your examples of love to me. 
Lillie
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I’ll Be Home For Christmas. . .

…if only on your screen!

Well, the Christmas season is hopping here, we’ve had some interesting things happening here in Augsburg lately, some good, some not so good, but I’m over-all just really really happy. 😀

It’s an exciting time of year to be here, with the lights and the Christkindlmarkt and a really creepy Engelsspiel…but it’s been really fun. 
Tomorrow is Heilige Abend here in Germany, and we’re going to be at our GML’s house for dinner with the Elders. 

Last night we celebrated the fourth Advent, You’re supposed to light a candle on the first one, two on the second, three on the third, and four on the fourth, but we didn’t buy candles till last week so…all of our candles are of the same burndness…

We didn’t have a tree and we were talking about it with Teagan and Jasmine Winkworth and they suggested that we should make an origami Christmas tree (I’ve gotten very crafty with paper for thank you notes for people in the ward) and so last night we made one out of folded green paper hats. 

Sister Armstrong folded a hat out of construction paper and then took another sheet and cut it in half and then folded that into a hat and so on and so forth till we had 10 or so little paper hats stacked on top of each other. I then grabbed an empty toilet paper roll from the WC and put it under the paper hat tree. I then fashioned a star of David with yellow paper, double sided fabric tape, and a needle. Then we cleared off the table in our front room and put all of our gifts around our little tree:

A very missionary Christmas to you to! 😀
Image

I was just thinking about Christmas this week and I thought of the song I referenced above, I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams… This song was written by/for soldiers during the World Wars and many of them had been stationed in Germany. It was a song to their family members that were in the states a world away, with different cares and different struggles. 

I realize that though I’m not a soldier fighting for home and country on a battlefront or in a logistics bunker, but I’m a soldier of a different sort. 

I’m a soldier of a different kind, a soldier fighting for my beliefs and for the salvation of mankind. 

As a soldier I’ve sworn this time to defend, till the end, those things that I believe, the things that I  know  to be true. How grateful I am that I know  that the side I am fighting for will come off the conqueror. 

My battle may not be won with weapons of man, but the idea still remains. With the armor of God I cannot fall, and none who wear it will fall.

“Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.

“Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, which I have sent mine angels to commit unto you;
“Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked;
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye ask of me, and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am, ye shall be also. Amen.”

-D&C 27:15-18

My armor may not be readily apparent, but it gleams bright and true.
I hope that we all stand with the armor of God, and that we keep it bright and shining by polishing it with daily prayer and repairing any damage through daily scripture study, and that we strengthen it with weekly church attendance. 
This is God’s work, and I can testify to you that this is a war, and that we are fighting on the battle front of eternity for Eternal life and Salvation of mankind. I am a soldier in God’s army, I am fighting for a cause of great worth. My small testimony may be no more than the quick sound of a sword, echoing throughout the eternities, but I stand as a witness, ready and true, prepared to fight until the end. 
This is a war against a real being, a real person, our fallen brother Lucifer. If you have ever thought to yourself, he’s not real, I ask  you to think again. This battle we’re fighting is not just against the natural man, it is against a real being, who has real power. But his power is dependent upon us. If we choose to give him power, then he will have it, if we choose to deny him that power, than he will not be able to abide in us. 
It’s time to make your choice. Will you stand for the being that will grant you temporary pleasure, temporary victory for the things of this world, or will you stand for the Being that will always have power, whether we believe in Him or not?
I made my decision. Have you?

Lillie

Streets of Jeruselem

Today I am reminded of the story of King Lamoni in the Book of Mormon. King Lamoni was taught by Ammon after Ammon defended the King’s sheep and impressed the king with such great loyalty. The story is folgendes:

20 And the king said: How knowest thou the thoughts of my heart? Thou mayest speak boldly, and tell me concerning these things; and also tell me by what power ye slew and smote off the arms of my brethren that scattered my flocks—

 21 And now, if thou wilt tell me concerning these things, whatsoever thou desirest I will give unto thee; and if it were needed, I would guard thee with my armies; but I know that thou art more powerful than all they; nevertheless, whatsoever thou desirest of me I will grant it unto thee.

 22 Now Ammon being wise, yet harmless, he said unto Lamoni: Wilt thou hearken unto my words, if I tell thee by what power I do these things? And this is the thing that I desire of thee.

 23 And the king answered him, and said: Yea, I will believe all thy words. And thus he was caught with guile.

 24 And Ammon began to speak unto him with boldness, and said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God?

 25 And he answered, and said unto him: I do not know what that meaneth.

 26 And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit?

 27 And he said, Yea.

 28 And Ammon said: This is God. And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and in the earth?

 29 And he said: Yea, I believe that he created all things which are in the earth; but I do not know the heavens.

 30 And Ammon said unto him: The heavens is a place where God dwells and all his holy angels.

 31 And King Lamoni said: Is it above the earth?

 32 And Ammon said: Yea, and he looketh down upon all the children of men; and he knows all the thoughts and intents of the heart; for by his hand were they all created from the beginning.

 33 And King Lamoni said: I believe all these things which thou hast spoken. Art thou sent from God?

 34 Ammon said unto him: I am a man; and man in the beginning was created after the image of God, and I am called by his Holy Spirit to teach these things unto this people, that they may be brought to a knowledge of that which is just and true;

 35 And a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God.

 36 Now when Ammon had said these words, he began at the creation of the world, and also the creation of Adam, and told him all the things concerning the fall of man, and rehearsed and laid before him the records and the holy scriptures of the people, which had been spoken by the prophets, even down to the time that their father, Lehi, left Jerusalem.

 37 And he also rehearsed unto them (for it was unto the king and to his servants) all the journeyings of their fathers in the wilderness, and all their sufferings with hunger and thirst, and their travail, and so forth.

 38 And he also rehearsed unto them concerning the rebellions of Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, yea, all their rebellions did he relate unto them; and he expounded unto them all the records and scriptures from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem down to the present time.

 39 But this is not all; for he expounded unto them the plan of redemption, which was prepared from the foundation of the world; and he also made known unto them concerning the coming of Christ, and all the works of the Lord did he make known unto them.

 40 And it came to pass that after he had said all these things, and expounded them to the king, that the king believed all his words.

Today we had an appointment with Frau H. Last week, on Wednesday we had committed her to baptism for the 28th of Dezember. SHE ACCEPTED!!!!! Today we talked to her about the baptismal interview questions, and we were SHOCKED!

The First Book of Augsburg

1. And the missionaries asked: Do you believe that the Church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ were restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith?

2. Now when the missionaries had said these words, Frau H nodded saying: Yes, I never met him in person, but I believe that he restored the church.

3. And it came to pass that the missionaries pulled out a likeness of the Prophet Thomas S. Monson and said, This is the prophet of the Lord on the earth today, his name is Thomas S. Monson and he speaks with God. Do you believe that there’s a prophet on the earth today?

4. And it came to pass that Frau H believed and said, Yes, I believe that this man is the prophet of God. And the missionaries asked, What does that mean to you to know that there’s a prophet on the earth, and Frau H said, he leads me and helps me to know where I need to go. He can help answer my questions when I need help.

Oh, it was incredible! She’s amazing and she’s a believing heart and I just love her so much!!!!!!

She’s so excited to be baptized on the 28th of Dezember and she’s just so wonderful! Please keep her in your prayers that she will still have the desire to be baptized and that she will have the courage to follow up on it on the 28th. We are over the MOON with excitement!

Yesterday, in Relief Society we were reading in the “Teachings of the Prophets: Lorenzo Snow” manual, chapter twenty-four. The teacher asked the question to one of the members, “Sister, you’ve been to Jerusalem, what was it like for you to be there?”

The sister responded with a dramatic account of what it was like to walk in Jerusalem on the same streets that Jesus walked. She said that it was a very besonderes experience and overwhelming to know that this was where Christ had lived and ultimately died. (I found myself feeling a little jealous for her experience.)

Shortly after she’d finished her account, another sister raised her hand and began to relate the experience of a friend of hers who had gone to Jerusalem and they had simply said that it was only an awesome vacation. No more, no less.

Her comment left me feeling a little bit confused because the group seemed to take that as a sign that if there was no besonderes feeling then what made Jerusalem so special, what made the fact that Jesus walked the earth so special?

It then spurred a discussion about how wonderful it would be to travel to the Kirtland temple to see where Christ had shown Himself to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, how amazing it would be to visit the Salt Lake City temple to see where Lorenzo Snow saw Christ in the temple.

As I sat there, the swirl of German floating in and out of my ears, I was honestly bothered by this idea.I had been to places where the Lord had shown himself to others, and it had felt besonderes, but it was not the ground on which my testimony was built.

Later, as I contemplated the experience I realized that it would be incredible to go to Jerusalem and see the Garden of Gethsemani, to hear the heavy burdens of our Redeemer echo throughout the milleniums, it would be undeniably poigniant to touch the sea of Galilee, knowing that Christ walked on the water there, and it would be incredibly touching to touch the stone that His body was laid after His death, to stand where Mary stood as she was the first to see the resurrected Christ, but what would it influence?

I realized that it didn’t matter if I never went anywhere in the world that the Lord had physically manifested Himself, it wouldn’t influence my testimony for good or for bad.

I stand fast in the knowledge that Jesus Christ walked on the earth, that He came here to die for us, and that He died and was resurrected on the third day. I may have never set foot in Jerusalem, but I know these things to be true. I have built my testimony on a solid foundation, a foundation of reading, praying, church attendance. I am so very grateful for the remarkable testimony that I have, a testimony that I gained by walking my own streets of Jerusalem, even if they were merely the pages of an ancient book preserved by the grace and mercy of God.

Love you!

Lillie

Victory

This week I learned a very valuable lesson, a lesson about being very aware of false cognates.

We were at a Relief Society activity on Tuesday and I was speaking in German without trouble, I communicate relatively well and I rarely make mistakes, and if I do, typically they’re grammatical. But on Tuesday, while speaking with our pregnant Relief Society President about sugarless Kool-aid I said the following:

Kool-aid, ohne Zuckar, schmeckt wie Fruchtwasser.

Which, directly translated into English is:

Kool-aid, without sugar, tastes like Amniotic Fluid.

 

Frau Hasenauer came to church on Sunday!!!! We were all very excited when she came, for all three hours of church!

Oh goodness! It was so AWESOME! She loved it! And she commented in Sunday School and then she sang in Sacrament meeting and it was just so incredible!

We’re going to commit her to a specific baptismal date on Wednesday!

Please pray that she’ll be open to it and that she’ll want to get baptized!

Wir drucken unseren Daumen!

We also gave a Book of Mormon to Meli, the eight-year old daughter of Mario. She LOVED it! She read from it with us and she was just holding it so close! She was so excited to have her very own book! 😀

 

In the front of my planner this transfer I have many scriptures written down for my personal motivation, but the one that’s the most stunning to me right now is found in Doctrine and Covenants 128:22

“Go foward, not backward. Courage Brethren, and on, on to the VICTORY!” 

These words are motivating, and keep me pushing forward to the victory! Whether that be the final victory, or merely small victories along the way.
I feel like life is like that, always. It’s never just one day you’ve suddenly conquered every enemy you’ll ever face. Instead life is just a long story book of adventures, some lasting longer than others. I’ve found myself on so many journeys in the last ten months I can’t imagine my life now without them.
I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days about the many little victories I’ve had over the course of the last ten months, things that have brought me happiness, sadness, joy, laughter, peace, pain, confusion, hope, faith, love, anger, charity.
I could probably write a book filled with these experiences. I could tell you how each journey felt, and I could tell you how I thought that I might not make it through many of them.
But instead of turning back I’ve been looking forward, forward to tomorrow, foward to brighter days not filled with German overcast. But each day is it’s own little victory.
But every single victory takes time, patience, work, dilligence, faith, hope.
And courage.
When I think about the man that wrote those words in Doctrine and Covenants, I think of courage. Joseph Smith was a man filled with courage, a man who had courage to the end.
I doubt, and I surely hope that none of our ends are as tragic as his, but I hope that we all remain courageous till the end.
Courage Brethren! On, On to the victory! 
 
Lillie

 

Simon Bar-Jona

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to follow Christ. What it means to be a true follower of Him and to follow Him to the end, no matter how bitter or painful, or long that end might be. Sometimes I find myself wishing for the end of something, sometimes the end of a lesson, a day, a week, a month, a transfer, and sometimes, regrettably, my mission. 

These times are very rare, very few and far between, but in those moments I feel as though I’ve suddenly lost all courage and I don’t know where to go or what to do, or what to say, and I feel as though I’ve been tossed about in a sea of doubt and questions that I can’t find a way out of. 

But when I think of faith, and the courage it takes to exercise faith, I think back to a man named Peter. 

I feel that I can identify a lot with Peter. He was impulsive, didn’t really think things through, and said whatever was on his mind. He had moments when he was the most courageous of men, and others when he played the coward. 

Poor Peter, every one hates on Peter, from Talmage to the sunday school teacher, to the seminary student. Peter was the apostle that couldn’t make it to Christ on the water, Peter was the one that denied the Lord’s washing of his feet, Peter fell asleep outside the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter denied Christ, Peter, Peter, Peter. 

But on my mission I have gotten to know a much different Peter than the one I thought was written about in the Bible. 

Peter was a humble man, a fisherman, the son of Jona, also a fisherman, but when he heard the Master’s call, he left his nets ‘straightaway’ as the record says, and followed Christ. He didn’t doubt, didn’t question, didn’t consult his father, simply followed this man that he knew was the Christ. His impulsiveness most likely fueled that initial following, to leave his wife and mother-in-law for a man that was claiming to be the Salvation of the Jews, but he had the hope that it would be more, and it was.

In Matthew 14 one of the most famous accounts in the Bible is read. Peter falling into the water, and needing to be rescued by the Lord. Most focus on the gentle rebuke that comes after Christ saves  the impulsive follower, “Oh ye of little faith, wherefore, didst thou doubt?” Of course if Peter had had more faith he would have made it to the Savior without trouble, but it seems like the underlying miracle is lost in the aftermath of Peter’s initial faith.
PETER WALKED ON WATER.
I can’t remember the last time I successfully walked on water, I don’t recall anyone being able to walk on water because of their faith here and now. So why does everyone give Peter so much grief for falling into the water?
I love this story because of the courage that it took to step out of the boat. The last thing that occurs to me when I’m on a wind tossed ship in the middle of the sea is to get out and walk on the water.

I may never have the opportunity to step out of a boat and walk to the Lord, but I have stepped out a boat, a boat of comfort, home, family, school, life as I knew it, and stepped into the waves of a treacherous world that was very very foreign for me. Those waves of language barriers, difficulties with people, time, money, homesickness, all pounded against my feet and legs, and I sank many times. I called out to the Lord, “Lord, save me!” And each and every time the Lord pulled me back up, just like He did with Peter. The Lord, is right beside me, just like He was with Peter as they walked back together, ON THE WATER, to the boat and the other apostles. 
I am still out on the water, of this journey, and coming back into the boat doesn’t mean I’ll never go back out onto the water again, it doesn’t mean that I’ll never have to face the uncertainty of stormy seas, but the important thing to remember is that I WALKED.

“Be still my soul, the waves and winds still know, the voice which ruled them while He dwelt below.”

I love you all!
Lillie