Hello everyone! Things are going great here in lovely Friesland. I am surrounded by the beauty of change – kids going back to school, changing of the weather to constant rain, saying goodbye to people, meeting new people. My dad told me before I left on my mission that “the only thing that is constant in a mission is change.” Beautiful and scary and amazing.
That being said, transfers are next week! I will be staying in Leeuwarden (hoorah!!) but my dear companion Sister Jones is being transfered :,( I will miss her so much! I could write a book about the things I learned from her, she is such a good friend and kind and loving and a hard worker but also a powerhouse packed into a little person. Her ability to be bold has changed my mission. Just to show you all how amazing she is I have copied in some random segments from some of her emails and will put it at the end of this email. Plus she writes way better than I can. This week was great!
Big news, our investigator Erik, has stopped with smoking completely! Hoorah! (happy dance here!) He is progressing really well towards baptism and learning so much. We have three people on date to be baptized now which is quite exciting. Our mission president and his wife, the Bunnells, visited our branch this Sunday which was quite nice.
Sister Jones and I started a cute little art project for our branch- I painted a tree on a canvas and we cut out little paper leaves that people write on and paste on the board about reasons why we love our branch. We are hoping it will create more of a feeling of positivty and home. Our little branch really is amazing. Did I ever mention that we meet in a building that used to be a bank? It is really beautiful and 4 stories so classrooms you have to go up the glass stairs for.
Also our ward mission leader is so kind and fixed up a missionary’s old bike with a bunch of new things and gave it to me! He was concerned that my mountain bike would ruin my clothes with no mud flap (which it was). I was insisted not to take it because I loved my American blue mountian bike so much…but I must say I am super happy with my new bike! Last P-day we watched a video with our Relief Society president called “Journey of Faith” about the archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon-It was awesome! Totally changed by perspective. Also shout out to my BYU Professor Ball who was a guest star in it 🙂 Would recommend!
We also visited an older woman in our ward who was in a recovery hospital from a fall-she is was so courageous and cheery! And is still radiating with her testimony. I am amazed every day by the awesome people here on planet earth.
Speaking of which, I would also like to give a shout out to Brother Adbart (what am I, at a concert or something??) who has us missionaries over for dinner every week, despite his health problems and hardships. He keeps moving forward, taking care of his faithful dog, diesel, and riding around town in his scoot-mobile:)
****Usually I don’t write enough and today was a big rant so if you don’t read any of that please read this:
My biggest takeaway from this week is a strengthened testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. Completely true. 100%. That book has changed lives, it’s changed mine and helped me come closer to Christ. The stories are lively, the message heart-softening. There is a power therein that helps us come closer to godliness. Every time I get on my knees to ask God if it is His word, I feel the peace come into my heart and assurance that God has not left us alone. Read it. Every day, do not miss out of that opportunity to fill your life with light.
Let me share two experiences with my investigators. One comes from Uganda, a freedom fighter I guess you could say. We hadn’t met with him in a long time and he wasn’t too interested in baptism. So we when we showed up this week, we had the intention of dropping him if he showed no commitment. To our wonderful surprise, after we said the opening prayer, he started testifying to us about how he had been reading and the doctrine in the book was so clear and helped him understand the Bible and expressed his desire to be baptized. Happy birthday sister misisonaries!
Another Dutch woman who we had met a couple weeks ago and only had one lesson with so far, also saw the change. When we came for our second appointment, she showed us all of the passages she read and how they brought her comfort. I know the Lord was guiding her reading because she flipped to the Isaiah passage about forgeting the shame of her childhood, and this woman had experienced some severe abuse earlier in her life. As we taught her the plan of salvation, it was all new to her but she was really touched and recognized it’s truth. We are looking forward to teaching her.
Well I love you all and hope you have amazing weeks! Peace, love, and Belgium chocolate!
from Sister Jones….
“Another new investigator might possibly be a Brazilian popstar. He’s leaving soon to do a tour in Brazil with this guy who apparently sings this smash hit called “Babalala” or something. It was super powerful when we first met him. He was telling us that he was actually just thinking about religion a couple weeks ago, and how he was thinking about the Christian people he knows and how they all seem to have a certain strength. We were able to testify of the atonment and the strength we can recieve through Christ. We left behind Ether 12, and last time we talked to him he just couldn’t stop talking about it. It was exciting to see. 🙂
Also, I just need to to have another shout out for the amazing branch Zuster Manning and I are serving in. We have been really wanting to do some activities or do something to help the branch get excited and bring more unity. Yesterday though in fast and testimony meeting the Spirit was just SO strong! There’s a ward member who’s a little mentally challenged and he went up and bore his testimony, and then 2 ward members got up right after him, supported his testimony and spoke with such love about him, the branch and they just testified so powerful about God’s love for us. It left me beaming from ear-to-ear, and the spirit was so strong in our chapel. I could just feel God’s love for the members here in Leeuwarden.
Also, someone from the stake was visiting and he asked all us missionaries to go and bear our testimonies, and then after we all did that the Relief Society president bore such a strong testimony of missionary work, ah it just gave Zuster Manning and I so much strength and confidence.
Also. There’s a new rule in our mission that we need to wear helmets. So here’s a lovely picture of Zuster Manning, our District Leader, his greeny, and I wearing our lovely helmets. When president made the anouncement we all sang “Nephi’s courage.” Replace “building a ship” with “Wearing helmets in Nederlands.” Try to keep a serious face, I dare you 😉
It was really cool though. I was talking to Zuster Johanson about it on exchanges and her perspective on it was powerful. She was saying how we ask people to live the law of chastity, word of wisdom, keep the sabbeth day holy, and change their lives around. What are so common concerns? “That’s not the culture anymore.” “People will mock me” “It’s not cool.”
Maybe we all just needed to be reminded what our investigators feel sometimes.
Well. This week was probably the first week I’ve seen where it didn’t rain at all! So, that was a miracle. Zuster Manning and I have gotten lovely tan lines on our feet from our flats and handbar tan lines from our bikes on our hands.
Also, we found this really sweet, rather new investigator who is just so… kind. I can just feel God’s love for her as we were talking to her.She was a potential from a couple weeks ago, but said that she wasn’t interested in us coming back, but we just felt super strongly prompted to go back and see if she had the chance to read in the Book of Mormon. And she ended up letting us in and we were able to teach her about the restoration and the atonment. She’s had a really hard life, and we talked about the atonment with her and you could just see the hope in her eyes. She kind of scared though to make commitments with anything, but I just know, I can just feel how badly she needs this.”