October 26, 2015 – Week 57

Hello friends 🙂

This was a lovely week. I”ll just do a random rant of things that happened. First of all on Sunday, Eryc was confirmed by his brother, which was a very nice experience and he bore his testimony afterwards. 

I went on an exchange with my former companion from Maastricht, Sister Jensen! What a fun time we had together, I think we talked each other’s ears off, about how we’ve changed since we’ve last seen each other, miracles experienced, life lessons learned, etc. She is such a gem and we also had some very nice experiences contacting in her city, Apeldoorn. The Lord really does watch carefully over companionships. 

I’ve felt His love a lot this week during moments when I really needed it. Sister Jaramillo and I had a super cool experience this week on the way to Gouda (home of the best cheese and stroopwafels, yum!) for mission leader council. The train ride was about 4 hours or so and our leaders have encouraged us to put an increased effort on “travel contacting” since we spend so much time in trains and buses, just starting converstaions with everyone! I have a super strong testimony of it and it can be really fun sometimes. Other times people aren’t in the mood to talk and just shut you down. But! This night we must have been sitting on a magical train, because through the course of the ride, 5 different people in a row came and sat in the seats across from us and we had really cool converstaions with all of them, and three of them gave us their information to meet with other missionaries in their cities! Miracles! The Lord always puts people on our paths; it is crazy. 

So then the day afterward, we had the council, which was awesome, and that night I went contacting with another sister in Rotterdam (a huge city, close to where I first served. Brought back such good memories!) and tried out some new techniques and also had good success there! So many people, so busy! Very unlike Leeuwarden 🙂 this beautiful sister I was working with, Sister Hansen, and I also had a really good conversation about self-worth. 

I learn so much from people here! Ward members, random people on the street, investigators, but I have also learned SO much from other missionaries. For example, Sister Jensen was telling me this week that having faith and hope is kind of her equivalent of the world’s expression of positive thinking. Yes, very true 🙂 

This week we also had an activity with our branch watching the movie, 17 miracles! Always a testimony builder. I am so thankful to be here on a mission and for all that I am learning and experiencing the work roll forward! I love you all lots!
Love,

Sister Manning

October 19, 2015 – Week 56

Hello everyone! What a beautiful week it was!
So as can be seen by the pictures, Mr. Eryc Sprott was baptized last night! It was an amazing service for an amazing man. I feel so blessed to have been able to work with him for these past months. I was really praying to stay in Leeuwarden this transfer to witness such an event, because the power of God really is manifested in ordinances. The Lord has been truly merciful to my companion and I.
I’ve talked about Eryc a bit with some of you but I would love to tell his story from the beginning! So, about five months ago, Sister Jones and I were walking with our bikes on the sidewalk to a dinner appointment.  We saw a man putting his bike in front of his apartment, and even though we were on our way, I stopped to briefly share a mormon.org card with him (what a testimony builder of talking to everyone. You never know who the Lord will put on your path!). He expressed that he was religious and we made a return appointment to come back a week later to share the Book of Mormon. Come to later find out that it was a harvest of seeds planted in the past; elders came by in 2008 and gave him a Book of Mormon but then the time wasn’t ready and they lost contact. A man in our branch also gave him a book about Joseph Smith about five years ago, but still didn’t spark his full interest. Come to also later find out that his brother joined the Church about 30 years ago, but he lives 45 minutes away and they didn’t have much contact.
Anyways, we start teaching him, and most of the information is new, although he had a religious background because he expressed how he knew that Christ is real because many, many years ago he was addicted to hard drugs and was able, with many prayers, to stop. I still remember one of our first lessons we were teaching him about prophets and he repeatedly was telling me “Maar lieve scaat, Joseph Smith was geen profeet!”,  which I guess is sort of like a Southern person saying “Darling, Joseph Smith wasn’t a prophet,” insisting that I must have been confused. And he told us he wanted to be baptized, but that it had to be in the ocean on the coast of Spain, no way would it ever be in a pool or font haha.
One day, things really changed as he told us in his Book of Mormon reading that week that he really felt the something different, the Spirit. Really key was also when he attended the Singing Elders’ concert with his brother. From then, things picked up. Since the first week we taught him, he was coming to church, but he started attending more meetings, including Priesthood and Family Home Evening. Although he is really quiet, he always expressed how he felt God’s love in the Church and that the branch members were like his family members. He is so funny by the way. He’s just a funny person. Quiet but opinionated. He was very addicted to smoking but when we challenged him to stop, he did so humbly. He hated when we asked him how it was going because he always just liked making his own progress. So I stopped asking him, but I could tell that it was going much better because his house smelled so much better, his eyes were clearer, and his ability to grasp gospel concepts skyrocketed.  One day I asked him how it was going and he laughed and told me in an annoyed tone that he hadn’t smoked in a month!
Fast forward…to his baptism! He had his interview and understood the covenant that he was making to be obedient to God’s commandments and leave his old life behind. It was a beautiful service. His brother and his brother’s family came and he gave a talk about baptism. Also he had to be baptized twice because his hand came up haha. But the best part of it was that right before the baptism was about to take place, as our ward mission leader was conducting the service, Eryc jumped up and asked if he could say a couple words. He was previously reluctant to share his testimony in front of people at the baptism, but he marched right up to the podium and told everyone how pleased he was to be making this covenant and that the past two days he had been feeling so incredible, like he was on the clouds and flying with the birds. 🙂 Also my companion gave a lovely talk on the Holy Ghost and he will be confirmed next week.
Well, that is the story! How amazing!
In other news, We had temple conference, and I had a lovely experience at the temple – I know that it is a house of God. I also had the neat opportunity of bringing a family name.
I love you all lots!

October 12, 2015 – Week 55

Hello! This was a great week here in Leeuwarden. We have found some beautiful and amazing new investigators and super exciting news – we have had some break throughs with some of the situations with our investigators which should result in some baptisms in the near future! Hippity-pip-hooray! Also, thanks to everyone who prays for my safety; I almost got hit my a car this week! But I didn’t. #blessings 🙂

Sister Jaramillo and I did a solo in sacrament meeting this week, I played piano (I know, can you believe it?!) and she played the recorder. We are both rookies to our instruments so it was a bit rocky but good nonetheless.

Oh yes, and a mission dream of mine came true this week! Haha we were at a lesson with an investigator when the Jehovah’s Witnesses showed up on the door! She knew one of them so they were let in (although she wasn’t happy about it) and shared a short message with us. It was a very friendly short conversation. But it was mostly just hilarious.

I think the most touching thing to me this week though was seeing in the lives of one of my investigators just how powerful the Atonement is and what a miracle forgiveness is! I am so thankful for my Savior – I know that though Him we can become free and clean from the sins and burdens that would weigh us down and captivate us. His redeeming blood brings the sweetest sort of freedom. How beautiful it is. We have such a great reason to rejoice and to keep our heads held high because there is always, always a bright future ahead!

Love you lots 🙂

Sister Manning

October 5, 2015 – Week 54

Hello everyone!
This was an amazing week! Learned a lot. And in other news, guess what I ate today? Escargot! That’s a true story, friends. My companion cooked me up some yummy snails. Surprisingly not bad.
A lot of things happened this week but I think I’ll give the emotional/spiritual report. Well first of all, Conference was so inspiring and uplifting. I was filled with a new dedication and motivation to be a consecrated missionary. In Conference, which is when we come to listen to the words of the prophet and apostles, I learned so much about personal conversion, real intent, and the reality that this is the Lord’s work.
I also realized that there is no shame in being raised in the church and believing since childhood. Sometimes I felt that my testimony wasn’t as meaningful as my companions who were converts or less actives or had a giant change of heart but I’ve come to realize that it is the power behind and continual conviction of the testimony, not necessarily in the way that it was gained, that can be life changing. It’s God’s plan to have parents who raise their children with the gospel, and I am so grateful for my parents who did that was well as opportunities I had to seek out and test my beliefs for myself. Life is pretty beautiful. I can’t ever remember a time being so changed or excited about conference haha. In the MTC during conference I was just struggling to stay awake:) bless my heart 😉
But, real talk. My companion and I had some struggles this week. I felt a couple days this week an unmotivation type discouragement that I had never previously experienced. And honestly it was really frightening. I felt overwhelmed and despite my best efforts, we were having a bit of trouble relating to each other. But the amazing part of this story is that Sister Jaramillo was also feeling some crazy discouragement. And when we finally opened up and talked to each other about it, after a good cry and hugs, we received new found strength and courage in the Lord. We realized our potential as a teaching team and how much we really needed each other to both succeed.
Wow this sounds like a mission soap opera or something but it was very touching and it was a good week of growth and, in the end, happiness for us both. It was also cool because I was able to read notes that I wrote and journal entries from my first couple transfers and they gave me a lot of courage.
So there is the rant. Here is my invitation: Let us choose to believe. Belief is always a choice, a action of courage. I want to be humble enough to choose for God’s team. I want to be Heavenly Father’s most golden investigator.