June 29, 2015 – Week 40

This message is short but sweet (like my companion).

Hello everyone! (I need to come up with some more creative greetings…)

This week has been a really good one! Last P-Day we went and spent the day in Leeuwarden sight-seeing. We climbed this really old church tower/building thing from the 16th century called Old Hoeve, we climbed the stairs up to the top for a beauitiful view over this blessed city! Also the tower leans a whole lot, apparently more than the leaning Tower of Pisa! (spelling?)

Tuesday, was Sister Jones’ birthday! I wrote her a song, made breakfast, we did some awesome missionary work, and went and had a mini celbration at a member’s house for dinner! Complete with what they thought was root beer floats. They had bought it at an international store to try to make us feel at home. Dutch people hate root beer because a lot of their medicine is root beer flavored! They accidentally bought creme soda instead but it was still super cute 🙂

I’ve learned a lot this week about just how important it is to teach people, not lessons. It’s amazing that although the principles of the gospel are the same, they help each person in such an individual way!

Sister Jones and I also had a fun time this week doing what we call “talking back negative thinking.” As we are biking we take turns giving self-limiting beliefs that would weaken our faith, “I can’t speak Dutch, I’m tired, the branch doesn’t trust us…”etc. and then the other person would comeback with an answer that helps us get our thoughts focused on the Lord and positive. it is fun and we are burying our ” I can’ts! ”

We had “bro-support day” many days this week which was awesome! We were able to be at a lunch appointment with the APs, work a day with the zone leaders, and then spend a day with the “singing elders” which was AMAZING. Blessings! I’m out of time so folks stay tuned next week to hear about singing elders and my French miracle….

Lots of love!

Groetjes,

Zuster Manning

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June 22, 2015 – Week 38

Happy Monday everyone, and a happy Monday it is.

I was super lame and didn’t send an email last week so I’m just going to type away about my past 2 weeks! Starting off with 2 P-days ago, my companion and I went to the traveling carnival here, Kermis, which was an amazing adventure; we got giant cotton candy and popcorn, went on a scrambler, and went in a kiddie haunted house. Very fun, would recommend 🙂

Although a ton of our appointments dropped through the past two weeks, we also saw some amazing mini-miracles. One day when an appointment dropped through, Sister Jones had a feeling we should go visit an older woman in our branch who lives way far away. So we made the trek, and she was so excited to see us and tell us her life stories 🙂 She said it was good that we came too because she had just fallen that day and hurt her hip and is now too injured to even leave her house. On the train ride home, our Relief Society President called us asking us to visit her, and we were happy to report that we were just there!

Tuesday we made the long journey up to zone training in Apledoorn, which was so uplifting and inspiring! Really strengthened my testimony in a time when I was feeling a bit blue. But it was also sad because it was out last time with our mission presient, President Robinson and his wife! They are such amazing people and the gave us great closing counsel. I also had some smaller conversations with them both. Sister Robinson talked to Sister Jones and I, encouraging us that our numbers were looking up, and testified boldly that God had a plan for us. We’ve both had some harder time in our mission in the past, but it was what we needed to strengthen us. And now is the time to just work as hard as we can! She told me, “Sister Manning, keep the wheels on the bus, and keep the bus rolling!” Another thing she told me a while back in an interview, food for thought: “Sister Manning, when it feels like you have a rain cloud following you around, remember there is a big ball of sunshine behind it!” She is such an incredible example and leader, and President’s inspired leadership is extraordinary. I could write a book about them. 🙂 But we are also looking forward to the new leadership and the future ahead!

Oh also, our companionship and two elders from our district sang “Come thou fount of every blessing” for the special musical number. We had fun times this week subbing in primary, finding new investigators and building relationships with some less actives, and seeing the power of prayer – when we pray for specific things, such as finding people to teach, God will give us specific answers!

Also, here’s something funny in my last area. I taught a man named Pepsi, and this week, I meet an investigator that the elders are teaching named “Kola,” but pronounced, “cola.” So I’ve taught both pepsi and cola haha.

Week two: Last P-day, we went with the senior couple in our district (I love senior couples!!) to a local clog factory-they hand paint and carve them! I bought a cute small pair 🙂 All the rage here, I tell you! We also went and visited a monument where the first Dutch members were baptized. It’s the picture you can see the river where it was done. There was a beautiful spirit there! I also went to groningen this week on an exchange and worked with a sister that I served with in the MTC! Which was fun because this day was my halfway mark so we celebrated it together. And my lovely companion Sister Jones, surprised me when I got home with decorations. She’s so good 🙂 We’ve gotten a kick lately out of rewriting songs to have lyrics about missionary work.

We had a lunch at hte market, where I had raw herring part 2 and Sister Jones had it for the first time. Also all the rage here. But surprisingly tasty when you can get over the texture!

We’ve been working on improving our teaching skills and have come up with some cool new object lessons! Also we had a cool experience where a man we met on the doorstep and gave a Book of Mormon to, when we came back fo the appointment told us that he used to have an addiction to gambling, but ever since he met us a couple weeks ago, he hasn’t gambled a cent. Pretty cool. The gospel changes lives. I know it 100%.

I wish I could write more cool blessings and experiences, but alas my time is up! If any of you actually read this, congrats. And I love you. Have a great week everyone!

Sister Manning

June 8, 2015 – Week 37

Hey everyone! I’ve had another great week here! First of all, I just think it worth mentioning, that people actually do wear wooden shoes here. Not usually in public, but like just old men casually in their yard. It is a thing.
Another Dutch trivia, there are more cats and dogs than people here! Everyone has cats here! I never thought I really liked them until I was around them so much! They are so fluffy and I’ve grown to be a fan 🙂 haha But also I think I’ve found out that I’m a bit allergic to them which is probably a blessing as it will stop me from turning into a crazy cat lady in the future.
We’ve been working hard this week to find new people to teach and have had some success in finding new investigators, which has been a huge blessing. I’ve also loved meeting and working with a lot of Africans this week. I never cease to be amazed by how religious their culture is in general. I learn so much from the faith of others here!
A funny story that happened this week: I was talking to a couple of ward members about how when I opened my mission call, my first thought was The Best Two Years! One ward member had seen it and the other hadn’t, so the one who had seen it starts to enthusiastically describe how funny the movie is and recount her favorite scenes. It was a super surreal experience to hear her describing the scenes in Dutch, and I could understand her perfectly…but the movie is in English…about the Netherlands…but she was describing it in Dutch. It was just funny!
I’ve enjoyed getting to know the ward members better this week, there are some incredible people here. The weather is getting warmer which is nice but the other day I was talking on the phone to someone during a bus ride when all the sudden, we got hit with the biggest hail/rainstorm that I have ever seen! I thought I was in a hurricane! Also…trying to understand the man’s broken English on the other side of the line made for a very confusing and funny experience.
I’ve leared this week about how important it is to get out of your comfort zone, there is no growth in a comfort zone!
This week I was also able to comfort my companion when she had a bit of a rough day. It was crazy because I knew exactly how she felt because of struggles that I had experienced before. I have a strong testimony that part of the reason that we have trials is so that we can understand and lift up others. The power of prayer is real. God gives us specific help and always hears our sincere prayers.
To end today’s super random email (if you’ve made it this far, you deserve a handshake or pat on the back), I want to share a quote by President Hinckley. Let us all do our best and help others the best we can! Love you all!!

“I speak of the need for a little more effort, a little more self-discipline, a little more consecrated effort in the direction of excellence in our lives. This is the great day of decision for each of us. For many it is the time of beginning something that will go on for as long as you live. I plead with you, don’t be a scrub! Rise to the high ground of spiritual, mental, and physical excellence. You can do it. You may not be a genius. You may be lacking in some skills. But so many of us can do better than we are now doing. We are members of this great Church whose influence is now felt over the world. We are people with a present and with a future. Don’t muff your opportunities. Be excellent.”

June 1, 2015 – Week 36

And just when you think it can’t get any better…IT DOES. Hello friends, I’ve had an amazing week and much to tell about! The end of my glorious time in Maastricht was bittersweet. Our last days there were super chaotic but it was good closure because the beginning of the transfer was also super crazy! I love that city and that ward!
On our last P-day together, Sister Dobler and I bought matching swanky skirts. I’ve attached and awkward picture of us because it describes us pretty well 🙂 I’m super grateful for Sister Dobler, she was such a blast to serve with and helped me get back on my feet when things were rough. Tuesday for district meeting we had a ‘poetry lunch’ which was pretty much the best thing ever! I’ve attached a pic of that district, they were all so amazing. I learned so much from those hard-working elders, district leaders, the hilarious and spiritual senior couple. And the old man who wears a name badge and helps the missionaries, Harri. He’s so cool.
For the lunch, everyone either wrote or brought a poem to read about missionary work. They were funny, like Sister Dobler’s about how stalking is the ‘pardonable sin’ on a mission haha, or Elder Lundberg’s singing gospel soul music, or serious and touching reflections. Stay tuned at the end of this email to read my corny…serious poem that I wrote after my bike broke 🙂
Wednesday, I made the 4-hour trek up to Leeuwarden. My companion Sister Jones is so amazing! She is SO small and adorable, but she is a black belt in karate. This is actually a true fact. I feel very protected 😀 She is so so sweet and selfless and a hard worker. I’m super pumped to work with this gem. Oh also she’s from Oregon and has been on her mission 4 transfers but one here.
First impressions: Whoa is it different here!! First of all, culture. FRIESLAND. They are super proud of their Providence here. In fact, in this area, in addition to speaking Dutch, they speak fries, or frys…(?) That’s right people, it is not an accent but a whole different language!! It sounds way different and is super crazy! All the signs are in both languages, but most people speak Dutch so it’s not really a problem. I need to get out of the habit of saying my ‘Southern phrases’ though but it is a super beautiful place, a lot more canals and beautiful regional symbols of a lion, swan, and waterlilies. I’m loving it. (sort of like McDonald’s, but more classy)
Going to church in Dutch for the first time in 6 months was such a different experience! And exhausting haha. But the ward is great. It’s a bit smaller, we actually meet in a beautiful building by the train station that used to be a bank! I’ve already met some incredible members though and I’m looking forward to serving here. And it’s so cool to see the conviction that people all over the world have over Jesus Christ. We have Relief Society first, then Sunday School, then Sacrament meeting, in which I introduced myself. This area is a bit different from my last. In Maastricht, we had a lot of investigators but not many less actives. This ward area has many many less active members and really only a couple investigators. So Sister Jones and I are ready to roll up our sleeves and press forward with the work that is cut out for us!
Also it is SO much colder here! And rainier so far. Haha I can’t believe I’m wearing a jacket in June! Yesterday Sister Jones accidentally called ‘June weather’ ‘June winter’ and it seems pretty accurate to me 😉 But it is a fun time and I just count my blessings that I am serving here in the summer!
Yesterday, we missed our bus so we had an hour to talk to people on the street. It was so windy and rainy that my umbrella broke in 3 different places until it was unusable! So funny. We really weren’t having much success finding people to talk to but we wanted to use out time effectively. So we took a break to say a quick prayer asking Heavenly Father to help us find someone that would listen to our message. We turned around and the first woman who crossed our path. We ended up having a beautiful discussion with about hope. She stood patiently in the rain and told us how she had just moved here and is looking for a new church. We will be meeting with her this week. This is just one example of miracles that happen here every day.
I have a testimony of this work and I am so glad to be here serving the Lord. He is the light, the life, and the way and his path leads to eternal happiness 🙂 Even more happiness than the glorious chocolate that is so abundant here!
Yes, I live on Taco street. This is true. If you ever want to send me mail, be sure not to send it to Mexico.
Cheesy poem time….
Again my bike is broken, seems to happen every day
‘my tire is completely flat,’ I utter in dismay
my breaks are giving out, my lights were stolen by a thief
oh my bike is broken, I wallow in my grief.
‘My investigator’s broken!’ I murmur in my prayer
She’s stopped coming to church, this really isn’t fair
our last lesson was so solid, her commitment level strong
yet she hasn’t read one verse this week, now where did we go wrong?
My self esteem is broken! Oh how could I have thought
to learn a whole new language, to teach what’s to be taught
my accent is still painfully strong, and my confidence is weak
How can I be a missionary, if I can barely even speak?
Today my heart is broken, my spirit is contrite
For the Lord’s become my Shepherd, His holy word my light
His love can cover weakness, His grace envelops pain
on his errand, I’ve lost nothing, but I’ve had everything to gain
Every bike, and word, and person sits in His watchful care
His spirit fills my heart with peace and tells me that He’s there.
I’m grateful for thy mercy, Lord, thy kindness is so sweet
enough to heal my stubborn heart, and make broken things complete
Lots of love!
Zuster Manning