Monday, February 10, 2014

Miracle Week!! (SP)

Family and Friends!
This week was a miracle and story week.  So, get ready for stories :).  The Lord led us to those that were truly prepared while teaching me that when we're placed in deep water, we learn to swim. 
The first set of miracles happened on our companion exchange.  I went to the city of Graz and spend two nights there with Sister Regnier.  Let me tell you first about the first night.  We exchanged on Wednesday afternoon and traveled the train stations where we would take a 2 1/2 hour train ride to Graz.  We got on our train and realized that we hadn't printed out our ticket (it was bought, we just needed to type in our ticket number and get a print out).  The train was leaving in 5 minutes so we sprinted to the nearest electronic ticket booth. We typed in two different numbers that Sister Regnier thought it could be and neither worked.  Haha we both panicked just a little knowing we'd run off the train with nothing but my coat and her cell phone.  No money, no passports, no ticket to travel anywhere, nothing.  We sprinted back to the train and as we were pushing the button, the train began to slide past Sister Regnier's fingers.  Hahaha ooooooh, shoot, is what went through my mind.  We could see the Elders through the windows who had blank looks that read, ''Haaa... oh, snap.''  The next stop was only a half hour away and two elders just came back with our stuff.  But for the next hour we walked around, in our cute dirndls (the cute Austrian/German dresses that we sometimes wear for Zone Conferences).  A guy out of no where came and talked to us.  We talked about everything religion with him.  It was actually pretty cool.  Granted, he was a little drunk, but hopefully the card he got will go to use when he sobers up :).  In the process, I was proposed to twice, and Sister Regnier was almost kissed, but by another guy that was reeeeaaally drunk.  After saving her from him, the elders came.  Hahahaaaaa.... oh the joys.  PROMISE we did not try like niaeve little girls to convert drunk people.  Note to self, walking around in dirndls attracts THE wrong crowds. 
The next day, we were determined to take the craziness of last night and turn the day ahead of us into something pleasing to the Lord.  We set a goal to find 4 potentials and place 4 Books of Mormon.  After studies we went street contacting.  Neither of us had done it in a while (we work a LOT through members) and were both a little nervous, but it's just like a work out.  The first few minutes are just kinda warm up and you get your nerves out.  Once we got going, the Lord led us to two AWESOME potentials that both expressed some interest.  Haha there's nothing like a mission to teach you to appreciate all the members at home.  Anyone who is even the slightest bit interested is pounced on by the starving-to-teach missionaries.  If people don't say no because they straight up don't believe in God, they say no because sometimes missionaries freak out if you say yes.  Haha I love being a missionary; finding joy in the little victories God gives us.  Throughout the day, we talked to SO many people, all of which had had some sort of contact with the church before.  We learned at Zone Conference from President and Sister Miles about being examples.  They say it takes 7 times of contact before someone will investigate the church.  If that's true, we added those to a lot of people's tally list, many of which were not the first!  So cool!  One thing I learned from this exchange was that every single one of our potentials found and Books of Mormon places were done as a companionship.  Sometimes we innocently contact alone, and not that that doesn't work, but I learned that doing together as the Lord commands, IS the most effective and powerful!  It's less stressful as well!  I love being a missionary and applying everything my companion and I do to full time missionary work AND marriage.  It was SO cool though on the way home.  We needed one more potential and had 2 books left.  We had just barely been dropped off by a member after teaching an investigator and had a 2 minute walk home.  Sister Regnier, ''I don't know if it's gonna happen.''  Sister Packer: ''Anything can happen.''  Just as we say this, we're walking up a darker street and there are two guys walking towards us.  ''Here they are,'' I thought.  We stop them and talk.  There names were Zack and Slamen.  We talked for a while and it turned out that Zack was from Afghanistan and had worked as a translator for the US for 6 years.  He loved Americans.  He was paid well and had a house and car and 2 years of education behind him, but he knew he wasn't free.  The Taliban threatened him with death if he didn't stop working for the US and start working for them.  He refused and to save his life came to Austria where he speaks no German, lives in a tiny apartment, has little money, and his education isn't valid (I believe is what he explained).  He wanted to be free.  We told him we were American and appreciated what he did for the Americans.  Then we offered free German classes in which he was VERY interested.  We gave him a Book of Mormon and those sisters plan on giving Slamen one in his language too.  I  learned two things about being a missionary whether it's member OR full-time:
1. Being selfless and just asking people how they are doing is SO effective and my FAVORITE question.  I ask people that and almost never get a bad response (the responses that are weird, I don't worry about because I was just being nice!).  When I'm sincere and really want to know how they are, here, they've so often been suprised, but they smile and instantly feel my love.  You don't have to start with ''Joseph Smith was a prophet...'', although that could work too.  I'm just scared to begin with something that doesn't sound or feel natural :).  
2. Listen.  Just ask them about themselves, and LISTEN.  Our job seriously is so easy.  Order of Operation, just like we learned in math.  And we thought we'd NEVER use math...
3. Connect to them and Testify.  Pretty self explanitory.  I tell you all any of this as if it's new.... Haha I know it's not.  It's just so cool to learn and I'm open to sharing it.  I love this work.
Lastly, we met a guy yesterday that in English asked us which church we belong to.  I've almost NEVER heard that question from someone so I jumped out of my seat on our street tram to talk with him.  I told him who we were, missionaries and taught people about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I then asked who he was.  He then responded and told us that he also did the work of the Lord and was a disciple of Christ, going around and healing people by the laying on of hands. cricket.... Um, what?  I asked him where he got his authority.  He said all he needed was a good relationship with Christ.  He kept just explaining to us what he does until he got off and I had no time to ask him something about the organization of the church which Christ created, or that we can't just give ourselves that authority.  He was a happy guy and super nice, but no.  I studies that this morning and did find it IN the Bible where it says we must be confirmed that authority by someone else.  Exodus 40:15-16.  Next time I meet someone like that, I'll whip that out.  I was grateful for the opportunity to study that topic. 
HOLY COW, that was a lot of writing.  But it was such a cool week and I hope any of these stories made sense and that someone could take something away from it :).  If you made it this far in my email, congrats.  It was a long read.  
But I want to testify that I love this work.  It IS the work of the Lord.  He IS our Redeemer and Savior and through Him, we have the principles and ordinances of the gospel which is first faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, second repentance, third baptism by emersion for the remission of sins, fourth laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  I also know that a man must be called of God by prophesy and by the laying on of hands be ordained by someone who carries the proper Authority of God in order to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.      
Sister Packer 
p.s. Josh, Elder Hargraves?  Did you ever serve with someone named that?    

this picture is of Trachten the traditional Ausrian and German clothing :)

Cool pic of a road up in the hills in Graz!

Sister Clark and I at a well known restaurant that sells BOMB wienerschnitzel

3 elders in our district at the restaurant.  Right to left: Elders Lyons, Curtis, and Abbott (DL)

I got this hat after complementing a lady on a bus.  She just handed it to me.  She was an opera singer and so cool.  You never know when paying a complement will grant you what you complemented!

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