Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 74 / A Week of Christmas Thoughts

Dear Loves of My Life,

On Monday we went to a beautiful lake in Celje. We walked for about an hour to get there and the scenery was incredible to breath in and really take mental pictures. I am really loving the view of the forestry here. It's very much a fairy tale and makes you realize the magic that is here on this earth and how much God puts details and love into everything. Everything has been touched and created by His hands and I really am grateful for His beautiful works here and the creatures living on this earth. We had a really good time at the lake and I got to eat a peanut butter sandwich with bananas... Who knew that I would consider that so heavenly? We made sack lunches for our trip and it made me appreciate and switch back to when I was going to school and mom would make billions of sack lunches for us kids. I am so thankful for mom and all her sweet efforts of giving us her all. I actually have been thinking about you a lot, mom. I wrote a sort of poem or shall I say rather thoughts for each day this week. I dedicate it to you, for you were a lot of my inspiration. Thank you for being my mom who has kept my world at flight, who has given me so much reason to be brave and love through out my life. Your example and the family's example are the endless flow that circulates in my heart. I Loved talking to you this week. Emotion has been getting the best of me lately and I thank Adam and Eve for that. I love that I can be open with you and tell you anything. Feelings really matter to us as humans. If we don't feel right, or bad... we walk away, we can't stay. We can't handle being in that particular place... But the feeling of goodness, unfeigned love that replaces the hardness of our storms is the only feeling I receive when I am in your presence and I want you to know it. You are the feeling that keeps me, that helps me stay and keeps my feelings of non-worth at bay. Thank you.

December 22, 2014 ( I was getting really excited to talk to you all and my thoughts turned to you in the early morning studies.)

Could you imagine holding me close?
Could you imagine I was at home?
I imagined it hundreds of times 
when I missed you like crazy.
And it gave me hope, it shook my heart.
It let me know I was still there with you
you with me.
Even with this ocean to keep us.
I have felt home in a far away place.

December 23, 2014
Today we had district meeting and it was a really uplifting one. Our district leader talked about the importance of who we are and here as missionaries. Someone said that our mission was a beautiful gift that we get to build on our strengths and weaknesses and how much it will be a blessing for the rest of our lives. We talked about how a lot of missionaries go home and then fall away and how badly I felt I wanted only this gospel and that I was not going to be one to fall away. All our lives we need to keep fighting for our faiths, or desires, what we truly hold dear. I know that it will always be that way, but how great is our reward if we keep to who we truly are. We really grow into something incredible. If we love and love and love we are conquering and our souls are in deep gratitude for the love we are fighting for.

Even after we die we are still fighting. 
We are still conquering. 
We are never ending. 
We never have to say goodbye. 
Our souls just keep... 

December 24, 2014
We went with the Branch President around to houses of our members and investigators to give Christmas baskets. It was such a touching spirit to sing to those people we have grown to so dearly love. I felt the Christmas spirit and was happy to take time to go and do that. It took quite a bit of time because our branch is quite spread out. We got on the free way and I was astounded to what I saw and really let the night fill me with a greater love for this holiday season.

A beautiful night paved with stars
as we searched for homes.
The black spilled on the earth
and the light dripped droplets throughout the fields that weave
cities like constellations.
Who knew we had such a view from the ground,
who knew we even had magic in our very own souls.
We drove on through the streets
and I stayed quiet,
wordlessly looking at the Christmas Eve 
that hung before me like the moon
and gave me a sky
to breath it all in.

We went to a member's house and I had a Manger/Nativity for their mother. I had never met the mother and I was wondering if it was a bit weird to hand her a note and a manger from a complete stranger, but as time went on and I looked to my badge and the name of Jesus Christ shown bright, I knew that I was no stranger. It was my last manger and when we knocked on the door I felt a connection with this woman. She immediately went soft when I explained to her what I was doing and giving to her. She was sweet and it was really a great moment for a memorable Christmas Eve.

We went to midnight mass and it was really interesting to see the perspective that they had of Christmas and being spiritually fed. I was fascinated with how much work the Priests and Bishops have to do and the timing and memorizing they must act out. It looks like a lot of time and effort is put into their meetings and I love them for that. That they take what they know best ( like us all) and give their full selves. I felt appreciation for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I couldn't exactly tell you how much a warmth difference I feel when I walk into our building, our church. I really would describe it as walking into God's loving arms. I love that I got to celebrate Christ's birth with all sorts of religions and people. That I got to experience the love of Christ and recognize His beautiful gift to us and His birth to all of God's children.

December 25, 2014
After I got to see you all I was complete for the day. I felt a very peaceful vibe and I felt a strong love from God for you. I love all and each of your beauty. Although, you were in PJ's and bed hair... That was real and most beautiful to me. I believe that when you see someone you love, our faces change. It's like the Gods and Goddesses we are meant to be switches on for a split second,  because the love that fills us is the power of our loving Heavenly Father we become the true and purest beauty. All of you were glowing and beautiful today.

Sweet faces I have seen,
voices I recognize and love.
As we gather, and as we connect,
let me reach across, stretch as far as I can
so maybe you can feel my warmth,
maybe you can feel my love
as my hands reach out
to yours.

For Christmas we had a breakfast and I got to make some french toast. We spent time talking and eating and it was more of a day to ponder and to think and pray for our thankfulness for the Savior. We went out and talked to a few people and got a few pictures of our district. The lights in the city are a real treat and makes things really something special.

December 26, 2014

If it can grow, 
it can change, 
and if it can change 
then it can be some thing more than it was. 
And that is something remarkable. 
Change is a miracle that I like to see in everyday.

December 27, 2014
We went to 'Return and Report' which is for the Trainers and Trainees. It went super well and the things we learned are going to be applied to this week and forever. I really liked what one missionary said about having faith in our investigators. We really need to have faith in the people we love and want to grow. If you don't have faith they will not change and become something more. I really loved what Sister Nydegger said about learning to be brave. We need to remember to always be brave and we don't need to let our fears keep us hidden. We can be honest and open with God and He will help us be fearless.

The frost glazed over the forest last night. We looked out the window of the train and the honey from the sun made the grass sparkle as the rays hit the earth and drizzled down to give the world a white chandelier. 

The train rumbled and my mind took a breath and held it's memories, as we went through the tunnel. I wished for one thing and as the scenery came back to our view, my eyes blinked and the wish went with the blackness and I held on to that darkness as if it was my
deepest secret. 

The sun now took it's turn and opened my horizon and thoughts. I felt brave in the light's presence and knew that I didn't need to hide my desires in shadows, but rather to let God see them. To let God reveal my heart's wishes.

December 28, 2014

As the storm blows her winds, I am breathing.
As the stars twinkle, I am constantly blinking.
I know the seas cannot divide us, 
the mountains are not our curtains to hide us.
When the earth moves, I stumble around.
And as I walk the earth begins to tumble before me.
But I think of you and the world
and I remember it is because of you I am standing.
It is because of you my heart is still.
And the world becomes quiet and looks to us and simply smiles.
I knew that love would be enough. I knew that it was you.
you were already and always enough.

Hope you had a beautiful Christmas and that your New Year's is something completely rad. Best wishes and prayers.

Love you,
Sister Holly Cuthbert

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 73 / Merry Christmas

Greetings Comrades,

We had our free hot chocolate activity last night. Every week we do it and each time we get a little more fancy. This time we had lights, a Christmas tree, and some funky Christmas music playing in the back ground. Some of the members even showed up and began passing out hot chocolate and cards with us. It was really fun and we all had a good time watching our missionary district leader be a fearless tyrant. When we would give him pamphlets and cards to pass out he would start to straighten his back, lift up his chin to the heavens, and walk the streets of this little town. He would stop everyone and wouldn't let them leave until he got to bear his testimony and the people's hands were filled with brochures and goodies. He even would stop Christmas sleighs that were passing by on roads to talk about Christ. I have seen a lot of courage from those around me this week. Everyone has showed me in someway that we are all afraid of something... That we all have something trying to push us back from being who we are meant to be, but with the Lord we can push back and find the courage that keeps us moving. My district and the friends and family I have made here give me courage. Sister Nydegger helps me so much in realizing why we are out here and gives me that extra boost to go out and begin again, and again. I love her and what I am learning from her and my ending time here.

I am really grateful for my mom and my sister for picking out those small and meaningful mangers that I have had the pleasure of giving out this Christmas. I gave some away in all the areas of Slovenija and it's always had such a sweet Spirit in giving them the little baby Christ and seeing the eyes of those I love, flicker with a warmth of peace. I gave one to a Ukrainian family and their little boy who is three opened it up. He looked at it in amazement. He usually is full of energy and swinging on the trees like the wild monkey he is, but as he held up the baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph his gaze shook him with a smile so bright and fervent. He looked up at me and said in Russian, pointing to the figures on the statue. ''Mommy, Papa, and baby... BABY!'' How precious it is to look at this manger and see the family as a whole. The mom and dad and their efforts as well to raise up baby Jesus. I got to see the beautiful perspective of a small child, who can see the importance of such a small statue, a small manager... Even if he just saw it as just a mom and dad and a baby. He hugged it and kept it. I believe it proves how important God wanted Jesus to have loving parents, parents that loved Jesus so dearly... Not only in Heaven but down here on earth. That families are so important to Heavenly Father and especially now we must remember this, this holiday season, and forever.

We had our branch Christmas party on Saturday. All the members and people began to gather in and make their ways to their sits. Members that hadn't been to church for quite some time even came. This gathering was something quite beautiful. The electrical power actually went out in the beginning of the party and yet the Spirit of the room was still rich with cheerfulness and love. I found in the dark we began to unfold ourselves and relax and realize that all of us were bright from the hearts and love that we had for each other. The missionaries did a musical program at the end and the Spirit was strongest when one of our sweet members bore testimony of Christ. We had traditional Slovenian food at the party which contained sour kraut, sausages, and buckwheat mush or something. Whatever it was... I swear to you it gives me weird dreams at night.

One of the members who is a newly returned missionary has been waiting for his missionary name-tag replacement for quite some time. He didn't have one because it was lost on his mission and he requested a new one but it never made it to him in time before his service ended. Months down the road he was still waiting for it hoping that one day he would get it, but he was losing hope that he would as days went on. When we, the missionaries went to Zagreb this last week we received unexpectedly his name-tag and our district was happy and excited to give it to him finally. We wrapped it up and stuck a ribbon around it and brought it to our branch Christmas party. When the time was right we gave it to him. He was really happy to finally have it. It was really cool to see such a cool kid like this member wanting his name tag so much. All the history behind that name tag, all that it is and what it meant and what it still brings to his recollection of dreams and miracles that came to life because of a decision of a young man wanting to go on a mission to serve the Lord. The next day he gave a talk in Sacrament meeting. As I was listening to him speaking I looked at his white shirt pocket and noticed embedded in that pocket was the familiar shape of a missionary name tag. I am not sure exactly why but that moment my heart had a lot of gratitude for being on a mission and seeing this member wanting to remember and still be that example too. It touched me that we all are missionaries and we all need that reminder from day to day that we are all serving a master. I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I am so honored that he is my master, my healer, my joy, my salvation. He never gets tired of us asking for his loving hand or guidance and he is always willing to listen and get us through anything we may be challenged in. I know this is the only path I want to be on the rest of my life and I have seen the many blessings I have received because I have chosen Him. I feel a deep relief and peace, a courage that anything is possible. I cannot believe in impossible anymore... because I know with Him anything and everything is. I know if Jesus says, ''Come follow me'' he won't just help me in the beginning but he will help me till the very end.

At our Zone Conference Party, the Slovenija zone got to sing a specially number after President Grant spoke. The song was called, ''Peace, Peace, Peace'' It was such a beautiful experience to gather together as a zone and sing such a really pretty, real song. I think that is the biggest gift that Jesus gives to us. Peace... If we have peace we can do anything. We can know that everything will be okay... Good or bad. It's one of my favorite gifts I have learned to feel in every aspect of life. I want to strive for it in everyday situations and hope to give it to those I can. Christmas is coming... Jesus was born. That day is so rewarding and can help us reflect on what we did this year for Jesus, and ask ourselves -how did we return our love to him? There are so many ways to give back, there are so many ways to lend your time and talents to people that need them, there are so many ways to brighten the day for other people where ever you are in the world. I hope and urge you to find those ways, to lend your time, to brighten the days of all of those around you. Life is so short, the point of it all is to empty our hearts out each day for those around us. When you close your eyes at night, let those lids be fueled by a heart that has never stopped beating for other people.

Happy Christmas Family and Friends!
I hope you serve and remember with all your hearts that Christ was born now let us rejoice.

Sestra Holly Cuthbert

While in Ljubljana, Holly got to see some of her most favorite people!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 72 / The Gift that is Most Precious

Dear Family,

This week we had blue skies. It has been awhile since I have seen one, but there is something about looking at a blue sky that makes you happy. It got to me and made Sister Nydegger and I smile. It's been a lot warmer this week and I am really liking it.

We found many people this week through contacting on the streets and doing some knocking. We followed the spirit and went with names that we felt prompted to go see. I found a name a while back and felt good about it, but quickly forgot as there was things to do and other people to see. This last week again I ran into that same name. I didn't pull it out of the book, thinking I could get it later, but a prompting told me to go back and take it out. We made time to go see them this week and found out they were a super cool family. As soon as we were done with visiting them we turned around and a woman was coming into the house as we were walking out of it. The woman and I both stopped walking, we looked at each other and realized we had met before on the street. She is our age and dear friends with one of our investigators. It was crazy that when I first met her I was praying
that we would see her again because I felt really good about her and wanted to get in contact with her. Things were lining up and everything was connecting. We talked and got her phone number and I am excited to see what will happen next.

We did a church heavy duty cleaning on Saturday. It was fun to talk to the members and clean together. I feel our unification as a branch is getting stronger and I am really, and literally becoming best friends with these people. I am loving these people so much. They are incredible and always making my day so worthy to be here. We have a member here who we like to call Rad, he is a recent missionary and he is in love with ACDC. He is probably one of the coolest members ever and he has some great advice for us missionaries. He has been making us laugh all week and been super helpful to us missionaries and the branch. I really look up to his example and am glad he is in this Branch.

We did our 'free hot chocolate night' again yesterday and it went really well. Everyone was full of the Spirit and singing and we had some good contacts and laughs. One of our friends who is not a member of the church came to help out. He was such a good sport and helped us sing. Beforehand, him and I talked about the power of gifts. How we choose if we want to have others gifts for us or not. The gift someone gives can be joy, love, peace... It can be sorrow, hate, or anger, too. If we want it to affect us, we accept what others are giving and we become a part of what others give. We can control what we take and what we don't take. I feel a lot of times as humans we feel it's needed to take on the world and other's problems, we want to fix it, helping others by taking on their challenges. We want to swoop to their level and understand how they feel. We must realize to help them out of the hole we can't be in it as well and if we are, we need to work together to get out of it together. We can still have peace in scary times. We can still have joy is even the saddest of moments. It all depends on you and what you take in your life and what you don't. Whether you accept the gift or not. It is okay to sometimes take a gift and realize it's not exactly what you wanted. You can learn what you want and what you don't and as you start clearing your mind and as you begin to realize what gifts you want in your life... You begin to have clarity and you don't hurt... You can be a helper and a smiler to those in need of your company, or who is in need of a home, or a loving hug.

We have the power to choose. Gifts our beautiful and we receive plenty in each moment of each day. Each kind is something to look forward to whether it be a positive or a learning experience. The gift of Christ has been a major focus this week in our teaching. He has given us so many gifts that have been the major part in our lives. He has given us the power to change, to transform, the power to heal, to feel ultimate peace, to feel ultimate love... To be able to live, to feel God's power, to be happy, to be courageous to be fearless. He has given us so many gifts and He presents them to us in everyday situations. As I have been on my mission I have come to know that each of us have the power to have all the gifts God has for us. I have come to realize that while being out on my mission I learned how to be a courageous lion, to speak to anyone who walks in my path, to learn how to communicate, and invite. I hoped to become a missionary who could come home and tell these stories for years and years, that I would be some strong beast who could be a good hard worker member. To be a missionary to my kids. To bring others unto Christ and let them have the joy of this Gospel. All these things I have experienced and through my eyes and others you would think I have accomplished that  and I would not need anything more. But there is always more, always. I have received blessings in mounds, the most important thing that I have gained and one of the gifts that I have found wrapped within my heart is how my Heavenly Father sees me. What He sees me as. Or us. That I am something so special and precious to him. That I am a child of God. That I have a relationship with Him and Christ and that gives me all the qualities I need. God wants each one of us and He wants me... Out of all I am and things I could of done better, or things I didn't do exactly right... He still loves me... And wants me... And with that I have a gift to give back and that gift is my heart, might, and mind... My love to the Savior, my Redeemer, my King. I am grateful and humbled to have been able to learn so much, that I am comprehending more and more everyday just how much God loves us. I am honored to be serving a mission especially here in Celje. I am grateful for the members and my district for the support and love they share. I am grateful for a the member 'Rad' in this branch who has taught me to be me and simply follow the Spirit. I was having one of those days this week where I didn't think I was doing enough, or loving enough... He told me that God loves everything about me and is so happy and pleased at what I am doing. That the people here need me. It struck me hard and in that moment I knew the words he said were true. I know I am meant to be here at this time and to know that I will be loved as long as I have my Heavenly Father.... I will be loved. This quote has surpassed my skin and landed into my heart. It brought me comfort when I felt alone. ''God said you don't have to worry about love, as long as I am existing, you will be loved.'' I know this to be true. I know God is always giving His gift of love to the world and His children. That He is here with us. I know everyday we should be living this Christmas Spirit and realize the beauty it brings everyday that Christ was born, that he lived, and is still living, and he has saved each one of us.

Love you all and I am grateful for the support and love I get to be wrapped in everyday... Even across the ocean, I feel it. Have a wonderful week and all the best for this holiday season.

 Sister Cuthbert

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 71 / The Best District Ever!

Dear Family,

The thick rain has been painting the streets this past week. The storms create a blurry image with dark hues and midnight blacks as we go walking through the darkened streets. The lamp posts shine like gold and our ears take in the music that the sky is crying. We were heading to a potential farther out of town. Sestra Dutton and I had been looking in old potential lists from a few years back and stumbled upon a name. I kept it in the to-do list but after weeks had passed and the to-do list had a never ending story. We never made it over to see him. This week, a space opened where we were not quite sure what to do. My mind went back to the potential that had been found so long ago and we decided to make our way to his apartment. We made it to an area that looked like it could be the guy's house. We made it up and realized we were a little off and began to walk off towards the front of the apartments where there is set of stairs and a ramp for wheel chairs. I wasn't really paying attention and began to make my steps quick to make it over to the next apartment.The floors were glistening wet and I began to take notice of the world and it's spin and next thing I knew I slipped and hit my back against a corner and I was on the ground. I got up from off my back quickly because there was a strong pain on my tail bone. I admit, I was yelling, ''My Butt!'' I got up and realized my hands were all bloody and bleeding. I took a moment and was kind of just laughing at my walk because in two-seconds I became a grandma looking person. I couldn't walk right without feeling pain shoot up from my back. Sestra Nydegger and I talked and she asked if  I needed to go home. But I was not about to go home! I felt strongly that we needed to at least try and meet with this old investigator, that had somehow got lost. We began to walk down (me, still looking like an old lady) and found the correct address. The apartment building was a huge complex with many floors. We began our search, knocking on doors. It was beginning to get later and my prayers were becoming more fervent. We decided to try one more floor and the first door we knocked on there was a double door lock. We rang the buzzer and a woman came out. We asked if she knew the person we were looking for, she immediately began to smile and told us to wait one moment. All of a sudden a young man walked out and was looking at us in bewilderment. I was also looking at him in bewilderment it struck me like a lightning bolt that he was someone I knew before. We explained who we were and asked if he had talked with us before. He told us that our church is beautiful and has evolved incredibly. We got his number and we all planned to meet up once again. We walked outside and on to home in victory. I gazed at the sky and I couldn't see a thing, but I knew God was watching over us and helped us have a beautiful miracle that night.

Guess What? I tried it. I tried the beast. I tried a Jufka (as far as I can tell, a Jufka is meat, peppers and other stuff rolled in Filo Dough). You pass by those spinning cones of meat everyday and it kind of gets you thinking. Ya know? Yep, I liked it. I really enjoyed it. Maybe, I felt like I was going to have a heart attack, but it was still good. Sister Nydegger says I eat like one of the most healthiest person's she knows. Which is weird, right? Because I never thought it would come to this.... But it is! The Elders are trying to get me to eat meat at every chance they have. We went to this pizza place and they just hand over the pepperoni and say I need my protein. So, the elders are keeping me in check with that. Our little district in Celje is really close and it's good we can trust in each other and boost each other up. I noticed that working together with finding and being able to rely on each other has boosted the missionary work here in Celje. We have been talking to people a lot in center lately and making progress with members and non-members families alike. When we work together, miracles can happen.

The streets are filled with little markets on the cobblestones and the lights are eye-grabbing and breath catching. Everything just puts my heart in wonder at this time of year. We have met with a family and they are all lovely individuals. We got to sit down and talk about them and religion. It was good to be in a family setting and how much you can tell they care for each other. The atmosphere has a really good feeling. You don't really see close families like that here, so when I do I am magnetized to them. I think we in Gospel are so lucky to have families, and friends that support and love each other. I would literally give the world to these people and my families.

As one of our group finding activities we gave out free hot chocolate and brownies in front of the church. We had one of our investigators there who was being the best non-member missionary here. He was asking people to come over to our church and talk to us and he did it the whole night with us. It was great and I loved being able to spend time with one of the members who just got back from his mission. He is the raddest guy ever. We are blessed with strong members here and we just need to keep working together to keep building this church up. Heavenly Father knows His children and the children here in Slovenija. I feel and know of his love and here in the love of Christ I stand. Our testimony meeting was incredible yesterday. I felt a real spirit there. One member, who is actually from England talked about being good examples. I loved it. It is easy to be blinded by darkness or feel guilty from the world telling you not to be who you truly are. But, when we are here to be our very selves and if you are then the people will look to us and they will want to be like us. People don't want to change their lives sometimes because we aren't either. It helps to be an example. We help each other realize we can do something more, because others see our happiness in this gospel. We have such an influence on each others lives. We do matter to each other and we need to prove it. When Lehi was dreaming of the tree of life and he partook of the fruit, he desired his family to come and join him as well, he looked around to try and find his family and in that moment he saw the rest of the world. We are all a family and we must help each other partake of this wonderful gift of this gospel. The rest of the world needs us, we are all brothers and sisters. I thought it was cool because even if you are a member or not you can feel that this gospel has something, it has this ultimate joy and we need to help each other feel that way, especially this Christmas.

 Love you family, I hope you get my letter soon.

All my love - Sestra Cuthbert

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 70 / An Amazing Week