Saturday, January 3, 2015

Christmas 2014 !!

 On December 19th all of us Graz District Missionaries and some of our YSAs went Christmas caroling through the old town decorated walking streets of Graz. Elder Mitchell and Sister Pentz are not pictured because they are handing out "ER IST DAS GESCHENK" cards. (HE IS THE GIFT) And Elder Tew took the picture.  Alot of people gathered to listen and it was a great time to let people know who we are and that Jesus Christ truly is the Gift to the World.

 I snapped this pic quickly as we were singing.

 This is a Christmas Market up on top of Schlossberg in the old theater.

 We bought some hot apple/orange punch to warm us, and take home the metal souvineer mugs.

 Another Christmas Market at Hauptplatz. the main city square.

Elder Tew and I have been helping Sister Bishop and Sister Pentz teach and help this sweet Karin Bauer come back to the Church. She was baptized about 21 years ago but has been totally less active for alot of that time when her husband left her. She moved to the Graz area 6 years ago and just got in contact with us missionaries.  We had her records but couldn't find her because she moved from the address listed. She got the phone number of our Sisters from a friend in Salzburg. She is a single mom with 6 daughters but only the youngest two are still at home. The girls have no interest yet. They are ages 19 and 15 and we are hoping they will want to join us for our visits. 

 We are in the apartment of Ketty and Hannas. They invited the missionaries and some friends over for dinner and a Christmas program. We showed the "Joy To The World" DVD and had a great discussion when the question was asked "so what is the difference between your church and the Catholic Church??" What a great question!
 This is the lovely dinner Ketty fixed. She is from Peru.

 Great friends the Lex family. Norbert and Heika (our new Relief Society President) and two of their daughters, Svea and Siri. Siri is one of our YSAs but will be getting married in June.

 December 21st and all the Advent Candles are lit for the 4th Sunday before Christmas.

This is our cute young friend Aigerim who came to visit us for a couple of days right before Christmas. She studies in Vienna and came so we could show her Graz. We had a great time. She still hasn't been beptized yet because she is waiting for her mother to come from her home in Kazakhstan to be with her. Aigerim calls herself a Mormon anyway.

 I thought it would be interesting for you to see the upside down trees in the daylight.

 Such a beautiful painted building that everyone loves.

 Of course we took her up to the top of the K&O store to the glass platform to see the city views.

Aigerim took this pic of us.

 This pic is for our grand kids who love to build with legos! We thought you would like to see this Lego Santa in the K&O store.

 And...this display of wild animals for our animal lovers.

 Of course we hiked up the Schlossberg so Aigerim could see the views from there. Graz is full of red roofs which is somewhat unique to Austria.
 Our beautiful Rathaus (city hall) at Hauptplaz.

 The clock tower we love so much.

 More Christmas Markets.

 We happened to be here for this gorgeous sky at dusk.

It doesn't get any better than this.

The city hall with the ever changing Christmas lighting.

More of the lit trees.

A lovely nativity scene.
Now we have another version of the Nativity hand made by an Austrian seamstress and purchased by our good friends Klaus and Laurel pictured below. Normally the Austrians do not put the baby Jesus in the manger until Christmas Eve when the Christ Kind or Christ Child comes but Laurel let me take this pic earlier.
We love being with this great couple sharing ideas and fellowshipping. Klaus is suffering from a very difficult health issue and when we come to play games and laugh, it takes his mind off from it all. Laurel is a member of the Church and an American so they come to Utah every year to visit her family and travel. We are hoping they will be able to stay with us some of the time. Klaus comes to Sacrament meetings to sit with Laurel but with his strong Catholic roots, it is difficult for him to embrace the Gopsel that his wife loves so much. She would love for him to get baptized and he enjoys our church but... maybe over time.. We know from the scripture in Ether 12:6 "ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." He is going through a tough trial and we are praying for them.

Christmas Eve! This is part of our group that enjoyed the evening with us at the church. I made sure that we had enough food and Rick provided the program down in our YSA room afterward.
Some had to leave and others came. We had four non-member friends with us (three are pictured here) and it was fabulous. Sister Pentz led us in singing Christmas songs after Elder Tew showed a part of "Joy To The World" and teaching about the Gifts of the Savior.  And then...we enjoyed more dessert!!! Bro. Haas (middle in red sweater) had not celebrated Christmas in ten years since his wife died. He was teary eyed most of the night and said he will hold this night in his heart the rest of his life. What a gift to us! A treasured memory for us all as we focused on our Savior's love.   

These...treasures are from Mabel and family for our Christmas. Love, love, love the pic she drew of us potato Grandparents!! And Grandpa Tew even has LEGS!! The earings even blink which I wore the next day for our young missionaries.

We had a waffle night for these great missionaries and they were able to Skype home to their families using our two devices and the computer at the church. They finally all worked. Yay!! We love them so much! We also played some great ping pong.

This special couple are Robert and Edith Seitz who invited all the District missionaries over for dinner on Dec. 26th. They also have a great conversion story and have been faithful servants of the Lord ever since 1991 when they were baptized. We don't know them well because they help out the struggling Branch in Bruck and are there every Sunday as Leadership. Several of the strong Graz members are doing that.

Years ago they bought this large table just so they could accomodate all the missionaries for dinner appointments and member families. 

Yummy desserts. Three different kinds dished up for us. Thank goodness my companion can eat his and some of mine also!  After being physically fed, we all shared our testimony and feelings which was a wonderful spiritual feast!

These fun Sisters and Elders gave us this beautiful plant in appreciation for what we do for them. (We cried)

Beautiful Sunday morning after Christmas. First snow storm of the year for us. Then Rick went out to shovel!!

When we were buying these Good Luck pigs as a gift, we met Vici behind the counter. She heard our English and started talking to us. She knows English, French and some Russian as well as her native German. When Elder Tew told her why we were in Austria. she asked what the difference was between our church and others. Yay!! Great times!! She gave us her email and the next day on our way to visit Karin Bauer with the Sisters, we bought Vici a sandwich and introduced her to them. She gave the Sisters her phone number and they are meeting with next week!  Missionary work is great sharing the Gospel and the joy it brings! 
Sister Karin Bauer that same day. Good times again!

Karin lives out in the country and such a nice drive.
We had to stop and snap this lovely hamlet on the hill.

Our New Year's Eve spent as missionaries playing 5 Crowns and Farkle with treats! But before that Elder Tew took me out for a Chinese dinner. It was about the only resturant open and was great!
Then Elder Tew and I drove around the city to see the lights again.

And we came home to be surprized by all the fireworks going off in our neighborhood. This pic is looking from our apartment down the street. HAPPY NEW YEAR!! It is now 2015!!!

1 comment:

Katherine said...

From Sister Pentz' oldest sister, thank you for this beautiful blog entry! It's wonderful to be able to see so much of the city, the missionaries and the people among whom Samantha is serving! I know she loves and appreciates you both so much; thank you, thank you!