Laufen Gehen!!!

Servuiss E’ch!!

Spring is here! The mornings are a nice cool temperature and each day this last week has been filled with sun and clear, blue skies. The mountains surrounding Klagenfurt seem to jump out with their snow capped peaks against the blue sky. It’s definitely a very pretty time of year! With such great weather, we started running this week. It’s been so fun to start that up again after having practically never run these last 22 months, other than to catch the occasional train when we are behind on schedule. One of the missionaries in the apartment (my grandson, a.k.a. Elder Bartholomew’s golden) ran for the track team at BYU so he and I plan to go running long distance each Saturday. We wake up early so we can fit it into the schedule, but we were able to go for a 40 minute run this last Saturday and I just love the peace and accomplishment that accompany a good run. It’s such a blessing to start my day off in this way again!
The work continues to pick up and we had more joint teaches  with members and investigators together this week than I’ve had ever before on my mission during the course of a single week. We’re not just teaching though, I really feel that many of these individuals and families that we are working with have real potential to enter the waters of baptism before May roles around. It’s been a careful and prayerful process with each of them, and the direction we’ve received through studies and inspiration to help them get to where they all are today is nothing short of a miracle.
Some of the wonderful happenings of this last week: Elizabeth came back on 12.3.14 and we met with her so she could show pictures of her baptism in the carribean while in the Dominican Republic. She was baptized on 1.3.14, and it was fun feeling her testimony and conviction to the things she knows to be true. She has her eyes set on the temple and even visited it with members while she was on vacation in the Dominican Republic. She tells me that she came back now so that she could celebrate my birthday with me. Haha she’s pretty adament and excited about it 🙂
About a week ago, I was on an exchange with Elder Dickson and we started talking to a 18 year old girl in a bus. We got her number before she got out of the bus and later set up an appointment to meet her at the University here. The day before the appointment, she send us an SMS to ask if she can invite some friends. We were a little nervous because it could go both ways. Either they will all be interested, or they could be immature and react poorly to anything we would say. We decided after prayer and thought to say yes, and she invited her friends. We showed up and there was a total of 8 students there including her. Every single one of them was interested, but there was one especially that had actually been wanting to learn more about our church. We exchanged numbers with him and will be meeting with him this Thursday!
Yesterday, we arranged for the bishop’s family and the Piacentini family to do a FHE night together. We all had a lot of fun and it was a great opportunity for these two families to get to know each other better. I’m really excited for the progress and efforts that the members have with our investigators; The members here are great and it’s easy to work together with them.
The rest of our investigators are doing great and we began working with a couple more new individuals this week. We continue to especially meet with Lukas regularly and he’s making great progress towards his baptismal date at the beginning of May. He’s finally begun reading from the Book of Mormon, and I’m sure it will just continue to go uphill from there!
I’ve attached a picture of Elder Graver and me! Love you!
Mit Liebe,
Elder Janis
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The Hollister Model

Grüß Euch!

Thankfully, we saw another great week.  We’ve been working with a young 23 year old hollister model these last few weeks and had the opportunity to set a baptismal date with him this last week!! His name is Lukas and he’s solid. He’s way funny and cool, but at the same time you can really feel the sincerity and desire that he has to find truth and happiness in life. We’re currently working with him to make reading from the Book of Mormon a habit, but are able to meet with him regularly and each lesson is guided by the Spirit.
We introduced a stop-smoking program to Theresia this last week and although we will be beginning it today hopefully, she decided to try it out as a few days trial this last week and was able to go 3 days without smoking. The program takes a week and is designed to get all traces of Nicotine out of your body within these 7 days through high doses of Vitamin C. She’s really great and we’ll be meeting with her again tonight to start hopefully moving into the more spiritual and healing aspects of the gospel.
Aziz was in Vienna the entire week working on getting interviews with lawyers to speed up his process to getting a visa.
Probably the coolest thing that happened this week was at church yesterday. Sacrament meeting is usually during the third hour in Germany and Austria and during the investigator class, we looked out the window and saw Alexandra pulling into the parking lot. She is the wife of a part member family we’ve been working with that was very against talking with the missionaries about 1 month ago. They live a little over 30 minutes away from the church driving, and although we invited her to come to church with her husband Ignazio and to bring her daughter Valentina, we tried to be gentle with our expectations. The situation has been very sticky because of an incident she had with the missionaries about 3 years ago. Well, we were thrilled and surprised as we look out the window and see Alexandra walking in with her young daughter!! We hadn’t even really invited these last 2 weeks because we felt that it needed to be taken slower, but she came on her own anyways!!! That was a great answer to prayers and a definite miracle.
We continue to see many blessings and miracles each day and I’m determined to give more of myself and exercise even more faith through my actions this coming week. Through the small pondering moments I’ve had in this last week, I feel a deep gratitude and assurance of the guidance and blessing my Heavenly Father has granted me every week without falter. It’s incredible, and I know that He cares. I hope and pray for a greater increase in this work and that, which the Lord is ready to provide.
Irgendeine neue Begrüßung von riesiger Liebe,
Elder Janis

Frederic Schmid

Grüß Euch, wunderbare Familie!

So I’m going to start out with the coolest news of all!! While serving in Singen, Deutschland, you may remember me writing often about our investigator Frederic and the great progress that he made week to week. Unfortunately, he fell out 2-3 times the week of his baptism and at one point, Elder Chapman and I decided we needed to let him go. We did so and he continued to call me at least 2 times a week, pretty much begging us to come back and teach him. We told him that as soon as he came to church 3 times in a row, we would begin teaching him again. This step of faith was followed by a really cool story that Elder Bartholomew (my “son”/golden) shared with me from Singen this last week. Frederic has finally made it and giving up some of the things that he struggled with at that time when I was there working with him. He was baptized this last Saturday on 1.3.14!!!! Unfortunately, Singen is literally on the other side of the mission and I wasn’t able to be there for the baptism, but it is such a cool experience for me to share with the great missionaries that were able to bring Frederic further that I and my companions were able to do at that time. I’ve attached a picture of his baptism that Elder Bartholomew sent to me today! 🙂
So tomorrow there is a special Austrian holiday called Fasching, which is very similar to Halloween; although the Austrians also celebrate Halloween. On Saturday, the ward here in Klagenfurt put together an annual Kinder Fasching party, to which a lot of the members’ friends come. We had the opportunity to meet again with Theresia this week and she continues to make progress and develop better relationships with the members. She was also at the party on Saturday in the church and really enjoyed taking her children around to the different game stations we had set up, and getting to know the members. She is full of laughter and energy and it was fun to see her hit it off so well with the others.
After a week of working closely with Aziz, he has officially passed every check that would prevent him from being allowed to be baptized within the muslim religion and country’s restrictions that are set up to protect individuals hoping to become members of the church. He would have been baptized this last Sunday, but unfortunately there is still the worry that the Austrian government could view his interest and real intent in living the gospel as some ploy to gain Austrian citizenship. Soooooo, he’s just going to have to wait. It’s quite the bummer because he’s proved himself worthy and prepared for baptism a long time now. I understand the situation and support the guidelines and restrictions though, and I look forward to the day when he’s finally allowed to enter this covenant with the Lord and continue on with his progression in the gospel.
We began working with some new investigators this week. Two of them are Juniss and Ilaria. They both have real interest and desire to act and we’ll see some great progress with them I’m sure this week. We’ve had wonderful, spiritual lessons with them this last week and they’ve definitely been prepared.
Ok, that’s as much as these fingers can quickly type out for this week. I love you a bunch and hope you have a fulfilling week!
Liebe Grüße,
Elder Janis
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Mit den Mitgliedern Unterwegs

Du, Leute!

To start, I wanted to update you on some of the investigators you had asked me about. The investigator from Afghanistan continues to come to church each week and has not only shown his desire, but also his endurance in the gospel. He is 100% ready to be baptized and if he was from anywhere else in the entire world, it would have already been permitted that he enters the covenant of baptism. I’ve spoken with President Miles personally about Aziz’s situation on the phone to see if there are any exceptions to him having to to wait for baptism. The conditions for Muslims from the middle-east receiving this permission is very extensive and I’ve only heard of 2 other muslim investigators throughout my entire mission that had this real desire and were permitted to be baptized with already having asylum in the country. So, the fact that President is working and considering with me in helping Aziz do this shows the preparedness of him. All conditions have been met for Aziz up to this point except for one last one. We will be figuring out the situation with his family living in Iran this Wednesday in an interview with the Bishop. If his family is safe and plans to move to Austria at some point, Aziz will be allowed to be baptized. If not, he won’t be allowed unfortunately. As for the mongolian investigator, we’ve continued to work with her but she has been out for vacation for the entire month of February and we’ve had few appointments with her this month because she has been traveling all over Europe.
Last Monday went perfect!! We’ve now begun working with Theresa, the referral friend from a family in the ward we’ve been working closely with, as I mentioned in my letter last week. She is very open and hopeful for a better future. She recognizes and looks up to the lifestyles and happiness that this member family has, but can’t seem to see herself reaching that same point because of the mistakes and things she has experienced in the past. We’ll be meeting with her again tonight, where we will hopefully be able to help her begin the process to give up smoking and obeying the Word of Wisdom. How cool is this all?!?! I’ve never been able to work so closely and harmoniously with the members together during my mission and it’s so satisfying being blessed to do so now.
We were able to teach Sandra this last week at a member’s house who is from Portugal. She’s doing great and continues to make progress. We also started working with a young austrian man named Christian this week. He’s very busy taking care of his mother outside of Klagenfurt and isn’t home to often in his own apartment at the time because of the help and care that he is providing, but he is super golden. Bummer, there’s so much I want to write right now but absolutely never enough time to get it all out about each of our super cool investigators and the progress that they are making. I appreciate your support and will just have to express more of these successes and miracles guided by the Lord a couple of months from now in detail. Maybe I’ll just do an quick sentence summary of each of our investigators next week so you can hear about all of the other ones also and not just these few as written above. Sorry! I love you!
Wie immer,
Elder Janis

Valentinstag

Grüß Euch!

This week was crazy. There’s been some changes and today I started my second to last transfer. I’ll be receiving a new companion named Elder Graver. I don’t know much about him but he’ll get here this Thursday. I’m way excited to get him caught up on everything that Elder Smith and I have been doing. Honestly, Elder Graver is one super lucky missionary because I expect us to be seeing a lot of success beziehungsweise Taufen in the next coming weeks before he quite possibly is the one that “kills” me and sends me home. It’s going to be great working with him and seeing what the Lord has planned!
Great news for Klagenfurt from this last week! There’s been an investigator named Elizabeth that has been coming to church for the last 2 months and she’s from the Dominican Republic. She decided to leave this last Friday for a month vacation back in the Dominican Republic. Before she left, Elder Smith and I sat down with her and printed out the address and directions of the church building there near her house. We then received a call from her in the Dominican Republic yesterday, and she excitedly explained to us on the phone that she would be getting baptized in the Carribean while she is there and would come back a member. How cool is that!?
It’s kind of been a week with foreigners because we also started teaching a 26 year old Brazilian woman named Sandra this last week. It’s been a really neat story with her though, because I asked Elaine to send her an email and explain what she got to do last year as a missionary in Manaus, Brazil. Since then, she had been very busy with tests and babysitting and hadn’t had any time to meet until this last Tuesday. She is super attentive, humble and interested. During the lesson, it was so cool to watch her reactions and face as the spirit was able to touch her heart of the truths we taught. On Friday, we stopped by to bring her brownies we had baked (without realizing it was Valentine’s Day until we got there… awkward… that’s another, longer story. Sorry!) and were able to have a nice discussion. It’s been one big miracle with her and I’m excited to see how it plays out!!
Tonight, we’ll be meeting with a member referral for FHE. One of my goals as was transferred to Klagenfurt was to work better with the members and understand how I can encourage and support them more continuously and better as I have throughout my mission. It has been awesome to see the confidence and happiness the each member has as their friends show interest and they find little successes along the way. Tonight’s lesson is a big one and we’re thankful to be able to meet with this lady. I believe I mentioned her name last week or the week before in my email, so if you’d like to reference back, she’s Theresa… There’s too much that I want to write this week about all of our investigators. Emails don’t completely do missionary work over here justice. Naja.
Have an awesome week!!!
Liebe Grüße,
Elder Janis

FUßBALL : mit Brasilianern, Österreichern, Kroaten und vielen Anderen Ländern

Guten Morgen!

Haha I’m very sore. This last Saturday, our GML (ward mission leader) put together a stake soccer activity, which has slowly progressed over the years to include many more people than just those from the Salzburg, Austria stake. Many of the participants came from Croatia and consisted of immigrants from many different countries that were living there. As such, I had the opportunity to play soccer with brazilians, paraguayans, austrians, germans, americans, croatians, and russians. It was a lot of fun, but seeing as I haven’t really gone running in the last 2 years, my body definitely took a hit. I feel like a grandpa.
We saw many great miracles this week and I’m super excited to share a couple of them with you now. Things continue to really progress between the members and us and there’s definitely been some great miracles this last week. About 2 months ago, we met with the Family Suppersberger and talked to them about some of the friends that they had tried sharing the gospel with in the past. One of the names that they shared with us then really stuck out and we began praying for the Family Suppersberger that they would be able to find the opportunity to invite this friend to something. The friend named Theresa and she is the mother of 2 kids. In the last 2 months, I’ve had the opportunity to encourage and recommit the Suppersberger family to extending invitations to Theresa, and each time they have seemed pretty confident and excited about the thought of inviting. Unfortunately though, it just never seemed to work out and Schwester Suppersberger was having some trouble working her way in for many different reasons. This is where the miracle comes in. I spoke with Schwester Suppersberger last Sunday and although there seemed to be hesitation that she wanted to try further, I reassured her with my testimony that by praying specifically for Theresa and the Family Suppersberger these last few months, we had felt a confirmation that Theresa was ready to accept the gospel. On Thursday evening, we received a call from Schwester Suppersberger. She related to us the things she had just experienced within the last couple hours. She had gone over to Theresa’s house to pick up her son, who is friends with one of Theresa’s sons. Theresa had invited her inside and they began talking about life. Within minutes, Theresa began crying as she expressed the problems and difficulties she was having in her life at this time. She has been married twice and with both marriages, the husbands have both moved out and abandoned the family. After explaining this to Schwester Suppersberger, she asked her if she could meet the missionaries and talk with us again. She had taken the lessons about 20 years prior as she was a youth, but had never made the decision to join the church. This was such an answer to my prayers as I’ve continually prayed for and thought about Theresa and what we could do there to reach out to her. This experience has been a real testimony to me of how God guides us as missionaries, and just generally as his children. This week is a vacation week in Austria, so we’ll probably be meeting her next week 🙂
Everything is going great with the Familie D also. They came to the last part of church yesterday and ended up chatting with members for 2 hours after the sacrament meeting was over. I couldn’t be more grateful and happy with the way the Lord is bringing His work forward!!
Alles Liebe,
Elder Janis

Schnee!!

Hallo miteinander!

Ok, I take it back. This week was the complete opposite of last week. Haha there was not one day of blue skies, and we saw snow falling every day this last week, which has made the work a lot of fun! It’s surprisingly not cold though as we go walking and sliding around on on the streets 🙂 Unfortunately, with the masses of snow that piled up during the week, there have been some issues with trains riding on the tracks in certain locations within our area.

I don’t know what it was about this week, but everything just worked out perfectly! We saw some really cool miracles and I’m super eager to see how these new beginnings progress. I’ll share 3 of these with you today!
The first was with a part member family. About 3 years ago, the non-member wife of the family had a bad experience with missionaries that came by and didn’t handle “agency” very well and proposed certain commitment dates on her. She didn’t like this at all and since then has had absolutely no contact with the missionaries. We met her about a month ago and it was obvious that she was very distanced. Her husband asked if we could come by this last week, as we have been working very closely with him this last month. As we came to the appointment, she was very hesitant and cautious in everything that we said and did. Haha it was a little intimidating at first because I understood how fragile the situation was. That morning Elder Smith and I had a great companionship study and felt guided in the lesson plan we had prepared. As we shared this message, her heart softened and we really developed a great relationship. I believe she trusts us a lot now and doesn’t expect us to force her into anything she’s not ready for. By the end of the lesson/eating appointment, we had gotten her young 3 year old daughter to play and play with us (she is super shy and never talks, let alone sit in the presence of strangers), enjoyed delicious italian pasta (she is an Austrian that lived in Italy for 10 years), and really developed a great trust friendship through the Spirit of the message we shared. Because they live a little further out in our extremely large area, we’ll only be able to really visit them 1 time a week but she has a lot of potential! Her name is Alexandra.
The second experience was with another part member family. As we were visiting them, we learned that the Dad and one of the sons were not yet members. While the family was investigating the church 8 years ago, the son was going through a time of rebellion and the dad was always on business trips, so neither of them really had the opportunity to learn. The non-member son, Garin, walked in during the middle of our visit and we developed a great friendship with him. He is about 24 and we had the opportunity to teach a little before running to catch a train. Before going though, we exchanged numbers and asked if he would like to learn more, and he accepted!
The last experience has been a work in progress for the last 7 weeks. There is Familie D that we have been trying to slowly make our way into meeting with for the last several weeks, but the dad has been very stubborn and resistant, although he was the one that originally suggested us calling him.  We had the opportunity to eat with them and around the end of eating, the mom began asking questions about what we do and what’s the difference between our church and other churches. We were able to teach all about the restoration and read a little from the Book of Mormon, which fascinated and thrilled them. The husband joked that he thinks his wife will become a mormon… he doesn’t know it but we joke that he’ll become the ward’s bishop 😉
It was a great week and I’m looking forward to the many awesome things for this coming one! Bleibt hübsch, gel??
Führt euch,
Elder Janis