December 8, 2014 – Week 11

Hello world! So this week. Goodness. Well, I had a wonderful week, full of adventures, lessons, finding and rain.  But I am also really, really sad because transfer calls were yesterday. Sister Greenwell had a feeling that she was going to be leaving the city, especially because since she extended she only has 4 weeks left in her mission. So I had made all the necessary preparations that I was going to get a new companion, or that we would get a new companion, or a greenie, and that I would stay in the city. I never thought I’d leave Capelle after one transfer! Because so many sisters are going home, I am being transfered to Maastricht and Sister Greenwell is being tranfered to Leeuwarden.  Capelle is being shut down for 6 weeks! Madness! This will be Sister Greenwell’s 7th city, which is crazy for a sister! I am joining a trio companionship with a sister that was in my district in the MTC! And then since her companion extended after 4 weeks, it will just be the two of that.
I’m not sure if any of that made sense but basically the news is I am heading way down south! Sister Greenwell and my district leader both served in Maastricht and LOVE it.  They go on and on about how great it is! Apparently there are a lot of cultures and students there because it is by a university.  It is supposed to be one of the most beautiful cities in the mission and I might be taking trips to Germany because some members live there! It is a huge English-speaking ward because there is a military base nearby so that will be a new experience! I am excited for this new opportunity but so sad because I didn’t see my breakup with Capelle coming so quickly ;( ahh…I love the investigators and less actives we are teaching so much! We are arranging how to hand them over to different missionaries now.  There is so much that I love about Capelle and the people and the area. I´ve had so many great experiences here! Well, Dad always says that the most consistent thing about misisonary work is change.  Amen!
So a couple of other random thoughts for the week.  Last P-day we went to Kinderdijk, a really beautiful touristy and county town that is filled with windmills. It was so beautiful and misty and cold! Hopefully I can send some pictures.  Also, Sinterklaas was this week! We went over to a less active’s house and drank hot chocolate and they gave us chocolate letters. It was very Dutch.  As a joke, Sister Greenwell and I put out our shoes the night before, with carrots for St. Nikolas’ horse,  and when I woke up in the morning, there were two wrapped presents in my shoe! So adorable, Sister Greenwell made a new planner for me and gave me a chocolate M.
Another random thought: I love the word “gezellig” in Dutch.  There is no good translation for it in English, it basically means warm and cozy and family.  It is more of a feeling, but the Dutch use it to describe so many things: a house, or food, or memory, or event.  I love it because it is so much of what I feel in the Netherlands, or thinking back of my wonderful year at BYU, or Manning traditions of Christmas being back home.  It’s the feeling of reading a good book, or being warm by the fire, or giving someone a hug. It’s the feeling of eating dinner at a member’s house, or riding a bike in the rain while wearing a million layers of clothes. I’m a sentimental doofball, so the word is so descriptive for me.
Last funny thing.  My trainer, Sister Greenwell, told me when I arrived that I would have “the missionary dream” which reminds me of the “noodle dream” from Kung Fu Panda haha. Basically it’s a dream wherein you are super confused because you are doing a normal activity but then realize you are wearing a missionary name tag.  I have had a couple and it’s so funny! I had a dream I was competing at a forensics tournament but still a missionary.  I had a dream that Kiki and I were going swimming and I freaked out because there was a name tag pinned to my suit! hahaha.
Lots of love! Please enjoy the special spirit and peace that comes with this Christmas season.  Chirst really is the center and a gift to the world!
Zuster Manning


December 1, 2014 – Week 10

Happy December everyone! It was a fantastic week.  I guess as always I will just go into my stream-of-consciousness type letter.

First off all, Thanksgiving was quite fun! Our turkey bowl was a good success and we had dinner at a Dutch family’s house. They made us traditional American Thanksgiving food, which was a bit unusual, but delicious!
A cool thing about this week is we went to a dinner appointment at a woman’s house that was our first dinner appointment. She is a really nice woman, but it was funny because the first time we came I couldn’t understand her accent at all! So being able to understand more was so cool.
I got asked out on a date during a street contact. Haha it was awkward but I guess a classic sister missionary situation.

I gave a talk in church this week! That was fun.  I spoke about faith and told the story about how when we were younger, I told Kiki that if you planted a piece of candy in the ground, it would grow into a tree! ‘Twas fun.
We have a new ward mission leader, so we are really excited to set some new goals and ward mission plan!
Our sad moment for this week is one of our investigators dropped us.  It was heartbreaking but the whole experience was led by the spirit and we feel at peace about it. This work truly is in the Lord’s hands.
We had a conference with three different zones and an area authority was there.  It was really so inspiring.  I love the true power there is in missionary work.
Small wonders for the week: my bike broke…again..but we miraculously got a great price to get it fixed! Also we learned how to make brownies in a mug in the microwave.  It is a gamechanger for sure.
Something I’ve really enjoyed doing this week is working with some less-active members in our ward.  It is so cool to see them come back to the light of the gospel, and want to share it with other people as well.
One of my favorite lines in Preach My Gospel says something like “Nothing happens in missionary work until you talk to people.”  It’s really cool to see that be true. For example, one of our really cool new investrigators we met in a funny way.  We were on our way to a dinner appointment and we didn´t have that many materials to go contacting with.  Put if you pray to God and tell Him you have so many passalong cards, a plan of salvation pamphlet in English and a restoration pamphlet in Dutch, it´s crazy, you will find people to match those languages and topics! We had three minutes before our appointment and one more Dutch Book of Mormon. So instead of going in early, we decided to yolo it and try to place it! So we found an awesome man named Jesse that we are teaching now! Even though funny story with him, during the first lesson, he thought we were Amish…Anyways, we have many other stories like that!  The Lord is guiding this work and I am looking forward to studying the language and gospel more to be a more effective teacher.
Love you all and have a wonderful week!
Zuster Manning

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

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.
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:)
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