March 22, 2016 – Wrap Up Letter

Hello friends and family! This is Joshlin (a.k.a. Sister Manning) here. I hope this email finds you all safe and well! I am praying that you missionaries especially feel hope and peace at this time. Because I neglected to send a proper group email the last week my mission, I am sending this as a way of wrapping things up nicely 🙂 I’ve been home for a few days now since my family came and picked me up, so the letter below is somewhat of a  time machine letter – I wrote it on the plane coming home! Don’t feel obligated to read, it is rather long and corny! 🙂 Also this is my new email (joshlinmanning@gmail.com), if any of you would like to stay in touch, shoot an email to this account!
March 22, 2016….
Right now I am sitting in the Detroit airport waiting with my family for our flight back to Kansas. My parents and younger sister Kiki picked me up last week and we have been on an adventure of monumental proportions traveling around Europe! But now it’s time to go home and tomorrow I will officially be released from full-time missionary service.

Updates from this week: Well, my sister is still the funniest person in the world 😀 Her new catch phrase “so what, that makes me a bad person??” gets me every time. I had just a corny and glorious reunion with my family at the mission office. I LOVE these people. We were able to attend church both in Leeuwarden and Breda. It was amazing to not only be on vacation but to visit people that mean so much to me. We took the one and only Ton de Groot to the temple for baptisms! So sweet. Other fun times were also had such as visiting Northern Ireland, seeing some West End shows, and that one time when I ran into a glass door. I guess some things will never change…. 🙂
Life is good, folks. This crazy adventure has heartbreaks, trials, and awkward moments, but how lucky are we for every single day that we have on this earth? Thankful and blessed do not even begin to describe the feelings of my heart when I reflect our Heavenly Father’s kindness and mercy. Especially for allowing me to serve in a special part of His vineyard for a year and a half.
As I close this chapter, I would like to testify of a couple of things that I have learned here
-I testify of the reality of God’s love. We are His children. He cares about us and is aware of us. Any missionary will be familiar with this scenario: an investigator has promised to come to church for he first time but when the meeting starts they are no where to be seen. Then, they walk in during the opening song and you want to leap out of your seat or fist pump or something like “Yes, they made it!” You are happy for them and after the meeting, you want to take them further to the other classes, gospel principles and relief society so that they can learn and experience more. I think Heavenly Father feels the same way about us, we are all his investigators! He rejoices at our successes and is always guiding us to the next step in our progression.
-I testify of the power of one. I was promised in a blessing on my mission during a rough period, that I would be able  to look back and see the ripple effects of my service here. I have been blessed to see that. God has a plan for us and His children. I am also so thankful for the people who have made the world of difference in my mission through their example, service, support, and words of kindness. Family members, friends, mission leaders, all of my beloved companions, and fellow missionaries. Whether these people knew it or not, they helped me tremendously. Love makes a difference.
-I testify that true conversion is a process and journey. Everyone has their own time to develop. I’ve been fortunate enough to pass through some refiner’s fires that have taught me patience, charity, humility, agency. Our trials can be for our good.
-I testify that when we are in the Lord’s service, we have angels bearing us up. I know it.
-I testify that with the Lord, we can do challenging, even impossible things. There is power in obedience and hard work. We are so often required, as Peter, to jump out of the boat and walk on water. Keep trusting, take His hand.
-I testify that Christ is a victor. He has he strength to conquer all weaknesses, regret, sickness, and pain. He is my Savior and friend. His hands are always outstretched and His love is never failing.
-I testify of the truthfulness of the gospel and all things associated! Of its restoration through the prophet Joseph Smith, the power in prayer, the reality of the Book of Mormon, the healing through the atonement. I am a witness.
Ah, I apologize for the length of this email. Perhaps it will make up for how short my group emails usually were 🙂 I’m looking forward to this next step in my life. The name tag is just a training wheel for the rest of what is ahead! Remember to keep your chin up and smile! I wish you all the best.
All my love,
Sister Joshlin Manning
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February 22, 2015 – Week 73

Good week but I am short on time to give the full account. It is nice that soon I can just tell these stories without having to email them 🙂

I have learned much this week about forgiveness – it really is a miracle of the atonement, both for other people and yourself! My companion and I took turns being sick this week but it is getting better now! I love looking for God’s “knipoogjes”or winks, the ways that you see that your loving Heavenly Father is mindful of you and loves you. Pray with purpose because there is someone listening! 

These wards are on fire with baptisms, every weekend it is investigators or children. After one, the font accidentally got drained so the elders saved the day bringing buckets of water haha. There is power in prayer and fasting and in the Priesthood! 

We had zone conference this week and we departing missionaries gave our “dying testimonies.” These next couple weeks are going to be epic! There are so many people who still need this great message! 

I love you people, later alligators! 

February 15, 2016 – Week 72

Dear World,
Happy Valentine’s Day! How great is life? Correct answer: pretty great.

In the words of President Eyring, “If we have faith in Jesus Christ, the hardest as well as the easiest times in life can be a blessing. In all conditions, we can choose the right with the guidanceof the Spirit. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ to shape and guide our lives if we choose it. And with prophets revealing to us our place in the plan of salvation, we can live with perfect hope and a feeling of peace. We never need to feel that we are alone or unloved in the Lord’s service because we never are. We can feel the love of God. The Savior has promised angels on our left and our right to bear us up. And He always keeps His word.”

I know it is true! This week was full of fun adventures, exchanges in Dordrecht with my two awesome sister training leaders, Sisters Goodman and Jones. 

I have a story about the power of prayer which I am not sure I have shared. We had an investigator in Tilburg named Reuben who was Hindu and worshiped many gods. But upon learning about Christ, his heart was touched and he was torn between the two ways of life. He had the desire to be baptized but he didn’t know if he could leave behind his old gods. We encouraged him to pray about it in faith. When we called him a week later, he expressed that he had a dream that Christ came to him and asked him to follow him and now he wants to be willing to do all that that entails! So beautiful.

Other fun things about Zoetermeer – we teach an English class every week, something I’ve always wanted to do! Funny, this week we practiced buying and selling things, and we taught the class how to say, “does this dress make me look fat?” haha 🙂 We also work every week on a dairy farm, feeding cows and scooping poop and the likes. It is fun and good life experiences! 

One of the elders’ investigators, Milko, was baptized! What a man of faith! This week was a bit stressful – I all the sudden felt weighed down by the future and the city! AHHHHH! But thank goodness for loving friends and most of all a loving Heavenly Father. I felt his support and care for me very strongly during sacrament meeting. 

One last quote because it is amazing!:

Harry Emerson Fosdick once wrote: “Some Christians carry their religion on their backs. It is a packet of beliefs and practices which they must bear. At times it grows heavy and they would willingly lay it down, but that would mean a break with old traditions, so they shoulder it again. But real Christians do not carry their religion, their religion carries them. It is not weight; it is wings. It lifts them up, it sees them over hard places, it makes the universe seem friendly, life purposeful, hope real, sacrifice worthwhile. It sets them free from fear, futility, discouragement, and sin—the great enslavers of men’s souls. You can know a real Christian, when you see him, by his buoyancy.”

Lastly, shout out to my beautiful family. I really love you all so much and owe you everything. You guys are the best. 

Love,

Sister Manning

February 8, 2016 – Week 71

Hello! This was a beautiful and miraculous week. I know I always sound like such a hyper squirrel emailing but I really am just so grateful for these days on my mission serving the Lord.

We have met some incredible ward members and investigators. We are teaching some teenagers preparing for baptism. Also, an amazing soul, Ton, entered into the waters of baptism this week! He is the man in the wheelchair in the pictures. The sisters met him about six months ago – and he swore he would never change religions! He believes that God sent angels to him in the form of sisters to help him turn his life around and mend family relationships. He has a huge smile and heart and I know, I am convinced, he will be the means of bringing many people to the gospel. So many of his friends and family came to the baptism and have witnessed the change in his life. 

One of my favorite members here has a very old soul, like me, and we love talking about Frank Sinatra and the good ol days 🙂 

My companion is a sweetheart and musical genius and is helping me write a song. There are many blessings from living close to the temple – these wards are thriving. We go to both an English and Dutch ward so Sunday is a day of a lot of church! My first week here, between ward council, both sets of meetings, and child baptisms in both wards we were at the church from about 9-6! 

There are a lot of beautiful canals here. I feel God’s love every day and know that He lives. He is at the head of this work!

Love,

Sister Manning

February 1, 2016 – Week 70

Hello wonderful everyone. Because of random p-day adventures, I do not have sufficient time to write a proper email haha. But I am alive and this city is great!

My companion, Sister Maughan, is from Highland, Utah and she’s a gem. We cover two wards: English and Dutch speaking, and the work is really going right now! We are working with some sincere, amazing people.

Lots of love!