November 24, 2014 – Week 9

Hello everyone! I hope you all are having great weeks and lives and all of that. 🙂 My time is super limited because we are running late but here are a couple highlights of my traveling week!

I went to Utrecht on an exchange with another greenie that was with me in the MTC! It was so fun and quite interesting as neither of us speak Dutch “real good,” but it all worked out!

I also traveled on Thursday to Belgium! Hoorah! A group of us were getting out legal paperwork done for our residencies there. It was such an amazing day because we were in Brussels and I got to hear and read so much French and Dutch and English all together. A beautiful thing, I tell you. And we saw touristy things and ate a waffle–better than you could ever imagine! Coated in sugar and whipped cream and strawberries and deliciousness!

Sister Greenwell and I had lunch with one of Sister Greenwell’s converts from a different city, a sweet and spunky woman named Ethlan. It is really amazing to see the bonds and friendships that are made on a mission. We also have a couple new investigators now which we are SO excited about!
I’ve learned that having members at lessons is GOLD like money! Not only because they speak the language, but because they add a very powerful and special witness and perspective. There are especially two women in the ward, Sisters Vermeer and Wilkens, that take really good care of the sisters and our investigators. I look forward to working more with the ward, especially because we have a new ward mission leader.

We are eating an American “Thanksgiving”with a family this week and today as a zone we played a turkey bowl! Yay for football, ‘merica:)

Anyways, I hope to catch up more about my exciting adventures next week and send a couple pictures as well as spiritual thoughts next week. Be good, everybody!

Lots and lots of love,
Zuster Manning

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November 17, 2014 – Week 8

Hello people! Sorry to spam you with pictures/emails but I wanted to try to get some sent.  This week a lot of really amazing things and really regular things happened, but missionary work is so great! For this week’s email, I thought I’d do a little session of true/false Netherlands style about myths or things I think are cool about the Netherlands. So, here goes!

1. Everyone here is Catholic.
False! I’ve meet the biggest variety of religions here, from all over the world.  It’s so amazing! Traditional religions, hipster new ones, and surprisingly Jehovah’s Witnesses are super big here. Kind of all the rage.
2.  People always think we are Jehovah’s Witnesses.
True.
3.  It rains a lot here.
Also true. It rains a whole lot!
4. Christmas!
I don’t even know how to make this a true or false. So basically Christmas is celebrated here, but not in the same way. The whole presents and Santa thing depends on family.  There are two days of Christmas! That’s right, on the 25th and 26th, everything is closed and Christmas is celebrated! One day is intended for your own family and the other for your family-in-law, or however you say that in English.  BUT, here’s the kicker.  In addition to Christmas, they celebrate St. Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, which is a holiday that starts in November and goes until December 5th. It is unbelievable sometimes. Basically it’s a holiday for kids, in celebration of a Catholic saint who is from Spain.  The story goes that he took a vacation to the Netherlands and saw the poverty there and gave the kids presents.  He looks like Santa, but more like the Pope, and has this black assistant called Zwarte Piet.  During this time of year they come in on a ship to the docks of the major cities in the Netherlands to give kids presents.  If you are good, you will get a present in your show throughout this time, but if you are bad you are kidnapped and brought to Spain to work for him. I think that’s so funny! But it’s a pretty big racial debate right now.  Anyways, there are lots of versions of the story! I also put a picture of me with my first chocolate letter, because those are super big here around Christmas!
5. Sisters perform the ordinance of baptism
False, of course
6.  Elders perform the ordinance of baptism
Also false! This surprised me! Elders teach, but in order to help with retention, a ward member performs the baptism!
7.  Food is more fresh in the Netherlands than the U.S.
True! Except for the milk, which for some reason, you buy non-refrigerated. Like regular milk.  I don’t know what’s going on with that…
8.  There is no peanut butter in Europe
This is false! Thank goodness, the peanut butter here is actually super good. Less sugar.
9. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true no matter what country you are in.
TRUE.  I love coming to church here.  I feel so much love and at home in a strange way because we are all brothers and sisters.  I love the gospel.
10.  I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Also true. Corny, but you know, true:)
Love,
Zuster Manning

November 10, 2014 – Week 7

Hello people of the world! This has been a wonderful week here in the land 🙂 I am getting a little better at getting around, I don’t know if my language is getting better but I’m probably better at faking knowing what’s going on! I love contacting people and teaching lessons and bascially just being a missionary! It’s so beautiful here and the weather is not too bad yet. Also I got a bike this week! *hoorah! I bought it from an elder that is going home.  Seriously, biking is so fun.  Everyone should do this.  I always thought people in the states were crazy for biking but I’ve found it to be an awesome mode of transportation.  We teach two recently baptized girls, and they love getting rides on the back of our bikes!

I love all the people we are teaching, although for now it’s not too many! We are teaching a very sweet Turkish woman named Sibel (Downton Abbey anyone?) and she came to church yesterday! We are also teaching a Indonesian man who always makes us feel like one of the family when we come over. He has a HUGE family that is always coming in and out of the house and eating food and playing music! We also are teaching a nice Dutch woman with a baptismal date so we hope all goes well with that!

I still am amazed how generally friendly people are in Capelle.  The ward is so nice; I especially love going to relief society,  This area is a huge melting pot so we have a Portuguese part of the ward and there are translations for different languages in all of the meetings.  I remember Jared telling me once that on bad days, you’ve just got to go get some ice cream.  My companion and I do that but with olliebollen, which is a food they have around Christmas time–basically a fried ball of dough with yummy things inside like bananas and chocolate.  I wish I had time to write about all the delicious things to eat here…  Basically doesn’t get any better.  So this week when one of our favorite investigators dropped us, we have to take a TO, cry a bit and get olliebollen.

A fun part of this week is that we did exchanges. Our sister training leader came here, which was fun because she served in this area and our investigators adore her.  On Saturday, we had a full day of finding, which was cool and we saw little miracles along the way!
Here is our awk story for the week – we were at a members’ house and there were 3 teenage children there, which apparently one was a nonmember friend, but I didn’t hear/understand that. So after dinner, I’m giving the spiritual thought in Dutch and sharing Helaman 5:12, I ask the nonmember friend Casper,  “How is Christ like a foundation in your life?” The whole family got a little flustered because he doesn’t even believe in God haha. But we felt prompted before hand to share about the Restoration so we did even though it was a bit awkward, but the family ended up joining and testifying. The best part was though, at the end, one of the elders that was also at the dinner appointment still hadn’t caught on that he was a guest and referred to him as the family’s son. It was too good.
Next week I will try to write about Christmas traditions here, they are pretty fun and crazy! Love you all.  I know that the Lord is in this work.  I promise to try every day to serve him the best I can. tot ziens!
Sister Joshlin Manning

November 2, 2014 – Week 6

Hello to everyone 🙂 I am presently writing you from the church building in the Netherlands. Crazy right? First of all, I am alive and having such a good time here! I am serving in a city called Capelle aan den IJssel – it is right outside of Rotterdam and we are in the Rotterdam ward! My trainer’s name is Sister Greenwell. She is from Salt Lake (thereabouts) and about to die (meaning that she ponly has one month left on her mission) but this is her first time training. She is super sweet and we get along well. I hope to send pictures next week.

Well I do not even know how to begin so I guess I will just throw out some random thoughts…

When our group first arrived in the Netherlands, we stayed at a very nice hotel and had a workshop and got to know President Robinson and his wife. They are so great. President Robinson is a quiet man but has a firm vision for the mission–we are working to build a fifth stake here. Sister Robinson describes herself as a combination of a drill sergeant and a mom, which I think is pretty funny. We had awesome food there (more on this later) and then met our trainers the next day. After filling out legal paperwork and the likes, we were off to our cities!

So in our city, our main mode of transportation is biking, but we also use the bus and the metro fairly often since I don’t have a bike yet. Okay funny story so some days my companion and I have been doing a very Dutch thing called achteroping, or some spelling like that, which apparently is illegal in Belgium but fair game here. It’s where on person bikes and the other person sits on the back of the bike and rides. Everyone does it here, it is so Dutch and so much fun! But I must admit, rather terrifying. There have been times when I’ve closed my eyes going around a corner or so:) Anyways, one day we were late to an appointment and we got too close to the side of the bike path and totally tipped over and fell into the mud in front of quite an audience-it was hilarious!! The Dutch are very fashion councious so women would come up to me and tell me there was mud on my skirt and I’d say thank you even though half on my clothes had mud on them! One woman came up to me and basically commanded me to turn my skirt around so my bag would be covering it. So funny.

Another funny story: I had a best two years moment, wherein we were knocking doors and a man opened and I accidentally said, “good day ma’am!” in Dutch. My companion quickly corrected me but it was a total Elder Calhoun moment.

Speaking of the language, it’s pretty difficult! The Netherlands is such a melting pot of cultures, that the dialects are so different! I feel “in de waar,” or confused, a lot of the time but I just have to trust that with faith and hard work it will come. I would say about half of our appointments are in Dutch and half in English. Like I said, there are so many immigrants that sometimes other people don’t even know Dutch! But it does make it so I get to eat amazzziinng food here! I have had Suriname, or African, food several times. And we have an Indonesian investgator so I’ve had that too as well, and a lot of traditional Dutch food, including a stroopwaffel my first day! I wish I could tell about the food – so good.

Sunday was cool because I was able to meet many warm members and bore my testimony in Dutch! Many tell me that my Dutch is good for a greenie but I think its all talk.

It SO beautiful here in the Netherlands! It is overcast and rainy a lot but the parks are so pretty. Elders told me I was serving in the ghetto, but if this is the ghetto I can’t even imagine how beautiful the rest of the country is! Another thing-I was told coming here many times that the people would be closed off and rude to missionaries but in this city, I’ve found that to be completely untrue. The people are kind and open and many are willing to talk about religion or at least hear you out, unlike a lot of my experiences in the states! I have met the coolest and nicest investigators and members so far! Strangers on the street are also very willing to help out. I am learning each day about how to do better missionary work and I am so grateful for God for this opportunity to serve in this beautiful land with such a good trainer! I am so abundantly blessed. I love you all and hope that all is well!

Here is my new address:

Jachthoorn 27
2907 SE Capelle aan den IJssel
Netherlands

Love,
Zuster Manning