Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!! (EP)

Dear Everybody,
So I just realized that thanksgiving is coming up! They don't celebrate it over here so it was the last thing on my mind. So Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!! I knew I was missing something.
So Family, I hear you've had a pre-thanksgiving thanksgiving feast. How was it? I won't tell you what I had for my feast because you'll be jealous... Just kidding, its only lunch time here so I haven't even had supper. But I will tell you that I've had a few wonderful meals so far in the UK! Shepherds pie, Scottish pie (apparently they are different because of the meat), a proper roast with roasties (roasted potatos), ratatoullie, spaghetti bolognese, fish and chips, curry and one family even made had Costa Vida style burritos for us!  Oh and a whole bunch of puddings! Usually a pie or crumble with custard on top and icecream or clotted cream on the side. Sometimes a trifle. Oh man, so good. I have noticed that some of the meals don't have as much seasoning as what I'm used to at home, but its still WONDERFUL!
Now don't think I'm eating like that each day. This is just a list comprising the last couple of months I've been here in Newport. We get around two dinner appointments a week. Can't complain:)
Then there is one guy in our ward named Jeff that takes us out to eat in a buffet called Peechy Keens every few weeks. Yes I have gained weight. Not too much though:)
We've picked up a few new investigators this week. A really cool guy with his two daughters. Elder Eppel has been pretty sick as well so we've had to stay indoors for a few days.  So I've had lots of time to do stuff around the flat.
Is all of the Christmas stuff up where you're at right now? It was up in all of the stores as soon as Bonfire Night was over! Bonfire night is on November 5th. (Basically everybody spends the whole evening shooting off tons of fireworks. We've been hearing a fireworks nearly everyday this month! Even if it is just a few of them. People must just have a lot of extra or something.
Oh man it's gotten a lot colder this week! Gratefully it hasn't rained much. But when there are clear skies it means it is extra cold because we don't have the insulation from the cloud cover. We just try to stay in the sunshine and out of the wind.
Thanks for the emails everybody! Don't be shy about sending pictures too:)
Elder Jacob Packer

Gratitude (SP)

Hello Everyone!
Greetings from Munich Germany!  It's been 4 1/2 wonderful months and the Lord has called me to transfer to Vienna, Austria!
I'm so incredibly humbled by this transfer.  I was only one transfer with the wonderful Sister Jaynes here, but the Lord has something different in mind.  I'll be serving with Sister Clark!  Father knew in my heart that I wanted so much to serve in Vienna where my wonderful Uncle Scott served his mission years ago.  I don't know what awaits me there, but I rejoice in the opportunity to continue to learn the Lord's plan for me.  I'm so grateful for a God that is my very own Daddy who likes to give me surprises :).
The things I'm grateful for since Thanksgiving is here.
Occassional Americans that visit church that I can talk with and feel that home really isn't so far away :).
Conference talks playing in the morning while I exercise or get ready.
Prayer.  In all forms.  There's no such thing as a wrong or stupid prayer :).  If there was, I'd be the author of them all.
Wonderful scenery that reminds me that the Lord loves us.  He did it all for me :).  
An electric piano in our apartment, that I'm now leaving... (MOM!  I can play HYMNS!! I played once in church and a couple times in meetings!! :D)
Missionaries who work hard to bring the world His truth.  They inspire me to be better.
People that reject us.  My testimony grows.
People that accept us.  They feel the presence of God in their life and my soul is filled with joy for them.
An Uncle who served in Vienna where I'm going!
A family that prays for me.  Many people don't have that.  Yet :).
The hope of God's Light and Love.
Nephi.  Moroni.  MORMON.  Alma.  The Sons of Helaman.  Abinadi.  Paul.  
Joseph Smith.  My life is filled with Hope and the truth the Book of Mormon contains.
The members of the Munich 3rd Ward.  They are strong and given a challenge greater than I could imagine.  But they make it with flying colors :).
People that cling to truth and right no matter what religion they are.  It's a step.
My companions so far: Sister Kirvinen, Sister Lewis, Sister Smith, Sister Jaynes, and soon Sister Clark!  Bless their hearts because they had ME as a companion!
President and Sister Miles who lead with inspiration and faith the Alpine German-Speaking Mission.
Announcements from cousins that are getting married in the temple!  (Yay Kara and Kylee!)
Moments that make me laugh so hard, my sides hurt.  
Joy in a foreign land and foreign people.  But sometimes not so foreign :).  I found my best friends across the world speaking German.

I'm so grateful for the gospel.  It's true and I'm grateful to share it.
With Love and Hope!
Sister Nicole Packer

I feel that pictures speak louder than words so I attached a BUNCH.  

I've not been good at sending pictures, but here's a couple :).  These two families are a couple of my favorite that I got to meet.  I'll miss them

Monday, November 18, 2013

Miracles and Love (SP)

I learned a lot this week.  And it's a beautiful thing to finally come into the clearing of an unfamiliar forrest and to look back over the hill and see that through it all, I just kept walking and came a looong way.  Standing in the clearing and looking back on how far I walked, I'm amazed.  And I'm grateful.  I walked farther than I thought I could (kinda like every day walking here).  I was growing in strength without even noticing. 

I also learned that there will always be little things that could stop me from remembering my purpose here.  Always.  But I don't have to let them in because I have prayer, and I have the Atonement that helps me learn and move past old ways and weaknesses, which weaknesses I wouldn't trade the world for.  I'm so grateful for the time it takes for me find empathy for those I'll meet who'll be going through the same situation someday. 
Miracles this week.
A mom just walked into church last week.  No one knew her, or had seen her.  It turns out, she was in Italy and her and her family met a cool tour guide.  They exchanged emails and he sent her an email saying hey I'm a member of this group ( you should check it out.  She looked up the church, was impressed and after coming home, found a chapel, watched General Conference broadcasted and loved it.  Then she shows up in our ward :).  She came again yesterday with her two kids.  She already feels like a member.  It took one friendly tour guide, one link sent!  Heavenly Father is so cool!  Anyone can do that!  Whether people act on it isn't our agency, but Father WILL lead us to those that we can feel inspired to invite.  And it's natural! 
I love this work.  My eyes have never been so open to the worth of souls or the reality of God's plan.  He lives and loves us!  The Book of Mormon is the COOLEST book on this earth!  I love being a missionary!
With Love and so much gratitude to my Father in Heaven, who, when asked, sent me so much love from my family and friends,
Sister Nicole Packer
Keep the Faith!  Don't give up!  Trust in God!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Moment of silence. (EP)

Ok so yesterday (10 Nov) was Remembrance Day here in Wales. In Church we stood and had a moment of silence. It was a very reverant experience and I'm glad I was there for it.
What I was NOT told though is that they have a moment of silence the after as well. So here is what happened.
Elder Eppel and I went into a pharmacy/makeup store because we had to pick up some medecine. So as you can imagine there are lots of women bustling about looking at makeup. And some nice music playing in the background. We walk right to the back where the pharmacy desk is. After talking to the pharmacist he goes into the back to do something. I stop and wait. I turn back to my companion who is standing there quietly like he does. I start to talk to him. (I hadn't noticed to that the music stopped). He mouths something to me. I was very confused. "What?" I say. He just shakes his head. "I don't understand." I insist. He mouths something to me. I don't get it. FINALLY tells me in a quiet voice "moment of silence". 
I look around. Everything is dead quiet. All of the ladies in the store are like statues standing there.
"OOOHHH..." I thought.
I enjoyed the rest of that moment in silence and reflection.
I gave Elder Eppel a hard time about not just telling me in the first place. But its all good. Something to laugh about:) Now I know.
Elder Jacob Packer

Short and Sweet! (SP)

So many miracles this week!   It's been such a privelege working here and seeing all the miracles.

This week we met with an investigator Eugen who's progressed!  We taught him the restoration.  He felt the Spirit and it touched my heart to see his heart touched.  I'm so grateful for the tender opportunity to see people's hearts touched by the Spirit of the Restoration for the first time.  

If you could pray for these names this week, that would be so wonderful

Marja Maija

Loves to you all!  I pray for you and hope the work in Lindon is moving forward!

Sister Packer

Arnold Family from the States and new convert Marja Maija from Finland!  I'll try to send more pics and names with faces :).

Monday, November 4, 2013

Roadshow (EP)

Dear Family,
So basically one cool thing we did was a roadshow. Let me explain. Each ward in the Cardiff Stake put together a 10min show/play/scene to perform.  The director in our ward had the 4 missionaries in the ward play the part of minions. Lets just say we all had hannah montana wigs on. as part of it. I'll send pictures later:)
It was really fun, very clever and I'm pretty sure our ward won. Even if it wasn't a competition. The reason we were apart of it was because it was a great opportunity to get to know the members and work with them. And we definately did that throughout the process.

Yeah, sorry for the two emails. I sent the first half without finishing the email. Anyway.
For Halloween we had to be in by 6pm due to the crazy people with fireworks all around. It's really not too bad, I guess the mission president doesn't want us walking around talking to strangers in the dark on Halloween.
Yes, It is dark by 6pm. In fact its dark by about 5 now! Not even joking! Maybe I've just never realized how soon it gets dark at home in Utah before but when you need to the light to speak to people safely it's pretty noticeable. How soon is it getting dark at home? Is there snow yet?
Elder Eppel and I hopefully have two people getting baptized on Nov 30th! It may actually end up being the 7th of December because November 30th is Stake Conference and we wouldn't be able to confirm them in a sacrament meeting on until the Dec 8th anyway.
Let me know how the new Washer and Dryer are! I think a dryer would be really useful here. I'm not complaining or anything but everything just stays wet... Yeah, we use the radiators a lot to dry our clothes:) Mission life.
I told Danielle this already but I had Ratatoulli (if thats how you spell it). Is that cool or what!? I didn't even know what it was until after we had finished supper. But they said ratatoulli and I freaked out a little bit on the inside!
sorry this is short, and sparatic. Thats mission life sometimes.
Elder Jacob Packer
(Natalie/Christian: Those pictures of Andi are the GREATEST!! Haha I love them:) Happy Halloween!)

Building the Kingdom in München 3 (SP)

This week has held so many miracles I could not write them all.  I feel like maybe what Moroni describes that only a hundredth part of the proceedings of the people of Nephi were written.  I wish there was even a way to write them all in my journal.
But I want to share a neat story that happened this week.
My last companion Sister Smith got a bachelors at BYU in family history.  Before I came to Munich, she met a friend of a member's in the Munich 1st ward here.  This friend is not a member but was also interested in family history and together they worked on it.  For the first 3 or so meetings after I came here, that's all we did together was family history!  We grew in friendship and enjoyed the wonderful people they were.  She married and started coming to church with her husband who, years before had served a mission and had fallen inactive.  Just this last week, we were invited again to dinner with them and some of their member friends.  As missionaries we share spiritual thoughts and so we promptly did so at the end of the meal.  We talked about the love of God, which quickly flourished into a discussion about revelation and recognizing God in our lives.  It was overwhelming the Spirit in that room, and most eyes were moist as experiences were shared, questions arrised, and answers were discussed.  I distinctly remember having the feeling that this inactive/nonmember couple was so important not just to Father in Heaven, but to His work as well, and the room felt full, despite the few people I could see.  The non member friend drove my companion and I to our S-bahn station after we said a word of prayer together.  We asked her how she was enjoying church, to which she said she loved it.  We then asked her if she wanted to know more about the church and what it really is, to which she promptly replied, ''Yes, I'd love that.''  We acted cool, Sister Jaynes and I after this took place, but inside, I was going to explode.  The scene that comes to mind of how I felt is the one in That Thing You Do when Fay (or however you spell her name) is licking stamps to put on letters while listening to the radio when all of a sudden, their band's song starts playing live for the first time.  Her reaction was EXACTLY mine.  But inside :).  There are a lot of sweet things and sweet moments in this world and I have to say that being a part of someone's journey towards salvation HAS to be one that is so new, yet not new at the same time.  I know I promised people before this life to be that missionary that would help find them and give them the promised joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Even though I didn't picture a deferral being a part of my journey coming on a mission, I know that deferring those two months before I came was a crucial key to the timing of meeting these people and doing this work.  The Lord never wastes time :).  I'm so grateful for all the people in my life that took part in preparing me get here so that I would be here when I was supposed to be.  Heart warm thanks to my family and friends whom I wish I could write every week every detail of what happens and how much I love them. 
Everyone's journey is different, but I know that this nonmember could not have been so prepared to make the right decision to receive the gospel if she didn't first have friends who were members.  Missionaries come and go, and those searching for the truth need a friend in the church.  

I haven't felt homesick in a while, and I still don't (a great blessing), but I know that I'm not the only one deeply homesick.  So many people are.  Everyone is, to a degree.  This earthly journey was our first away from home.  I think I may have the slightest idea of how it could feel leaving our Father in Heaven if we would have remembered it.  Although I have teary eyes when I see my niece whom I witnessed come into this world, grow in light and smiles, only in pictures, wishing I could share those moments with my beloved older sister, and even though my sweet dear sister BreAnne who will be baptized without me physically there cheering her on, and although I can't share wth my mom and dad all the feelings, struggles, good times, bad times, adventures of clogged tubs, rotten treasures in the fridge, being caught in the rain, making someone laugh, feeling that I missed an opportunity to share the gospel and how to move on hopefully... although all these things I wish sometimes I could be there for, I know that being here is where the Lord needs me.  He needs me to be an example to those who have not a family to miss like I do.  I can only be grateful that I miss something so deeply when some are swimming in sorrow and hardship.  I want you (my family) to know that I love you all so much.  I love and wish I could share every moment with you as I have growing up.  But I have realized so much more how important and short a time it is to bring a world of billions the gospel so that they may have th treasures that I have.  I pray for you.  I hope and have faith in your happiness because you live righteously.  If I could ask something from you, it wouldn't be the largest package for Christmas or a room waiting for me when I return, but for you to share the gospel with someone who needs it.  Become friends with those that need a friend.  Serve those who are in need.  Give someone of that peace that you so much enjoy.  Invite people and missionaries into our home and show them what a family can be.
Daddy, I'm doing great :).  Thank you for writing me every week.  Thank you for the little stories that really get me laughing EVERY time I read them.  Don't forget to write them in the quote book!  I'm keeping kenpo in practice and am ready to defend myself and my companion at a moment's notice ;).  I shine my shoes just like you and think of you as I do.

Mom, I'm keeping my apartment and room clean :).  I wipe off the sink every time I use it no matter where I am just like you taught me.  I'm eating balanced meals and drinking water EVERY morning (and waiting an hour) before I eat.  I do my makeup every day and wear nylons and put myself together before I go out AND do my lips (most days) :).  And I do it all fast just like you.  I take care of me and my companion and then go out and take care of Germany.
BreAnne, thank you for your email :) :) :).  I'm SO excited for your baptism!  Hey, I have a cool idea that I thought of.  What if you invited a couple friends to your baptism that aren't members?  Like Ella Savage?  I bet she'd think it was really cool and would love to go with her parents.  Sometimes people don't know what baptism is and they could watch yours and see!  People sometimes also don't know that when we're baptised like Jesus, it gives us more happiness than we could imagine!  Just like Christmas when you open up new presents!  But, do what you feel you should.  Remember how I asked you and Danielle to pray every morning before I would do your hair?  In your prayer tomorrowor tonight, will you ask Heavenly Father who you should invite to your baptism?  There doesn't need to be a limit!  You could even ask the missionaries in the stake to come because then it could be like Jake and I were there!  And maybe the missionaries know someone who wants to see a baptism!  I know I don't always wrtie back, but I'm always here reading them, just like Heavenly Father and your prayers.
Natalie and Christian, I could not hold back tears and laughs when I got those pictures of little Andi.  My heart is so full seeing such beautiful parents raising their daughter with an overwhelming amount of love and care.  Her eyes still look blue in the pictures :).  She is stunningly beautiful and full of light. 
Jessie and Lydia, I'm not even going to comment how worried I am for all those boys who have to enjoy the fact that there's only two Packer beauties lighting the hallways of their highschool.  But more than beauty, radiance, and charm ;) those who you're with I know are also watching the incredible examples that you are and look up to you.  They LOOK UP to you and your example.  If you were the private teacher to all those people you're around, what would you want to teach them?  I know they're already learning much.  I'm so proud to be your big sister (big as in age ha) sister and get to learn from your examples.  It's so cool realizing how much Father loves us and helps us help others.  I learned that at your age and loved being a missionary in high school.  I know He's so blessed to have you too to help Him do so much!
Danielle, how are you?  I know you haven't heard from me in a while, but know that I think about you and pray for you when I think of it.  I know that Heavenly Father loves you and is so proud of you for being BreAnne's big sister (ah, man here come the tears..).  He is so proud that you can take care of all your fish, can laugh so much, can take care of Mya, and bring so much joy in our home.  You really are such an important piece to our family as is BreAnne.  You two keep us all in line (Your ALL know what I'm talking about).  I learned so much from you about listening and helping you learn things on your own instead of being a bossy big sister.  I needed to learn that before helping people learn about the gospel.  I'm so grateful you kept me in line :).
Well, my time is about up.  But I know this church is true.  The members are not perfect, but the gospel IS the gospel of Jesus Christ and it is through HIM that we gain true happiness.  I have one last quote I wanted to share from President Monson:
''From experience we learn the need to reach Heavenward for assistance as we make our way along life's pathway.''
I'm so filled with the Spirit.  I'm not sure WHAT kind of member this nonmember could maybe be if she accepts it at this time, but from that experienced stemmed so much gratitude and rememberance of how much I love my family and why I'm here.  I love this work and am so grateful for the chance to be here and become a better servant for Him who sent me.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sister Nicole Elizabeth Packer