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

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 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!

January 25, 2016 – Week 69

Can you believe it? I am getting transferred again! You know that moment in the movie The Testaments when the prophet papanwa man says, “Take me to the land Bounitful so that I may die by the temple.” Haha that is what my life is right now, because I am moving to Zoetermeer, the city where the temple is! The literal translation of the name is “sweeter lake.” Not to be confused with Salt Lake. Jokes jokes. I am sad to be leaving Tilburg. It is an amazing branch and the members here are among the best I have ever met. I will be forever thankful for them and all they did to help my companion and I out. 

That dear, sweet sister moved in with a senior missionary couple to rest and recover for a little bit. I miss her! I have learned so much from her faith! I think she was put into my life at a really important time. I mean not to be dramatic, but kind of. This last transfer has changed my entire life with the depth of how my testimony has been able to grow. And there is still so much more to learn!! I love the gospel so much. 

So recap on the week-still some more inside time at the begining. I went on some splits with branch members and our sister training leaders to help get some missionary work done here. One day I went on an exchange with my STL and I went so crazy-like I had the desire to literally talk to every single person I saw. It was fun:) Getting so into the work! I hope to keep that fire on my last transfer. 

We had district meeting and interviews with our mission president this week-at our apartment since we couldn’t go out! That was so strange but sweet. Bless our wonderful mission president and his wife and those supportive elders in our district.

Sister Johansen pointed out one day how historic this country is and how beautiful it is that we walk on the same cobblestones that have been here for hundreds of years. The gospel is being spread to the 4 corners of the earth, and we, as missionaries are just as much a part of the history than anything else that happens. We are not perfect but there are angels helping us our here and recording these miracles and stories. I read Elder L. Tom Perry’s dedicatory prayer for the Netherlands and he blessed the missionaries here specifically that they would be able to feel God’s love. I have sure experienced the fulfillment of that blessing, as I know many other people have as well. 

I am thankful for the hard times in my mission. From those I have learned the most and been strengthened. I am thankful to a Heavenly Father who cares about me enough to guide my footsteps and let me learn from each day that He gives me.

The past couple of days, I have been staying and working with the Sisters in Dordrecht, Sister Cowles (from my MTC group) and Sister Goodman. We are having a blast. I love being in a tripanionship again.

Well that’s all for now folks! Sending all my love 😀

Sister Manning

January 11, 2016 – Week 67

A week of miracles. They exist! This has been an amazing week, very interesting, funny, and fun! I will just add in some random fun things and great stories from our week…

We had a “stop smoking” party with one of our investigators; hanging up posters, treats, air fresheners, etc. It was super fun and we have faith that he can hold strong this week! That day the zone leaders worked with us – super inspired leaders – and they helped us a lot setting a baptismal date with one of our dear friends.
We had a blast eating dinner at our stake president’s house! We had a special spiritual thought with them about the Joseph Smith story. He is from Nederland and she is from England and their daughters are all so funny.  They are part of the “boom” family, which most of our branch is part of the boom family in one way or another. “Boom” in Dutch means tree, so sometimes people refer to our branch as “de gele bos” or “the entire forest.” Super funny. But they are all great people and really missionary minded. Our ward mission leader, branch president, relief society president, and the area seventy are also all members of the family, by marriage or children or brothers or what not. You know that aristocrats song “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat”? everybody wants to be a boom. 🙂 We are thankful for their inspired leadership!
We had a cool moment where Sister Johansen in an instant felt inspired to go to a different small town with an extra hour that we had. We saw that we had 5 minutes to catch the train so we biked fast and caught the train and had only 30 minutes to work there. We felt, as Nephi, being led by the spirit not knowing beforehand where we should go. The third door we knocked ended up being a nice young girl from Poland who is very interested. Since then, we have also found other investigators in this small town.
We had a nice experience with a woman named Shelia, a recent convert in our branch. We went to eat dinner with her, and she lives in an apartment with surrounding rooms of young, college boys, who were playing really loud, distracting music. But despite it, we had such a special moment with her, listening to other uplifting music and sharing our feelings about the Savior. She is such a special person whose life has really been cleansed and changed by the Atonement.
So much cold rain this week! But despite that it was still a very happy week with inside jokes! Many more things happened but they cannot be contained here! The gospel is the way, my friends. May we stay true and have our chins lifted up! Love you all and have a great week!

January 4, 2016 – Week 66

Ah man, I tried attaching a video of our fireworks display this year, but the file was too big! Just imagine you all are seeing on your screen a giant window, looking out on a square with fireworks being shot off so close to your sight and then an array of surronding fireworks as far as the eye can see! Yep. Happy New Year!

This was a really great week, full of hard work and many miracles! Everything from fasting, praying for a printer to work, helping a drunk man who had fallen off his bike travel home safely (my companion was like the good samaritan in this one), exchanges in Dordrecht with another sister from my MTC group, and going on adventures to deliver Book of Mormons (or copies of the book of mormon or however you prefer to call that). 🙂

I was sick this week with a cold, but it was a really big blessing because once again it made me appreciate how wonderul it is to be healthy; what a grand thing! 

On New Year’s Eve we received strict instruction to stay inside after 4 p.m. because people go really crazy with fireworks here. So we were encouraged to stay in and make goals – and lots of them! Three spiritual and three for the following categories: where we want to be in 3, 10, and 25 years. It was a spiritual and focused experience that I am really thankful for. 

Things are going well, and the work moves forward! And now, for some pictures! Love you lots, bye!

Sister Manning