November 9, 2015 – Week 59

What a week of straight up blessings we have had! How incredible! Well first of all, our amazing investigator Frank was baptized and confirmed!
Frank’s story:
So Frank was a referral from a member in Amsterdam who had just gotten baptized. She told her friend to investigate the church she had just joined. This was about a year ago. Frank started meeting with the missionaries, and although he was open to meeting with the sisters and discussing the gospel, but from the beginning he made it clear that re-baptism was not in his future and he wasn’t sure about the Church. He met with them for a few months and then went on vacation and lost contact with the sisters. Fast forward to about four months ago when Sister Jones and I were here. We were going through our area book and started making phone calls and set up a new appointment with him. (We would find out later that while he was on vacation, he was super disappointed because he hadn’t been accepted into the school he wanted to. He said he was praying for direction in his life, falling depressed and a couple days later, he received our call).
Frank was a freedom fighter in Uganda,one of the heads of his party, and he came to the Netherlands as a political refugee. He is a very passionate man about the freedoms of his country but probably one of the most humble people I know when it comes to trusting in the will of God. His story shows me the importance of the Book of Mormon and how powerful it is. Because Sister Jones and I were teaching him for a little bit but we were not sure where he stood one things.
One day we came to our appointment, it had been a couple of weeks since we had seen him and we were just going to be bold and set a baptismal date with him or discontinue the lessons basically. He surprised us all when we showed up. We went and sat on a park bench outside in the sun and he put his hand on the Book of Mormon and said, “Sisters, I’ve been reading this book, and I know it is true” and expressed his desire to get baptized! From there, we overcame some trials of transportion to church, and miracle after miracle we are here today! The baptismal service was really lovely. Sister Jones came down and we three sisters (haha that sounds like it should be a Christmas song) sang Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Frank bore his testimony and it was so powerful. Short but profound. He said he had always been a believer in God and Jesus Christ but for so long he had been wandering and now he feels at home in the Church of Christ. Incredible! His ex-wife and adorable daughter also came to the baptism.
Another miracle: Catherine, his ex-wife, has also been taking the lessons from us! She is so lovely. When we told her of Frank’s baptism at the beginning of the week she said,  “I already know. He told me and I am SO happy for him! And … I’m next ” hahah! So she will be baptized in Decemeber.
Another miracle: My last Sunday here was so amazing because Frank received the holy ghost and Eryc was ordained a priest and passed the sacrament for the first time.
Oh yes, I am being transferred!! I am going to Roosendaal! It will be sad to leave my beloved companion and this city I love so much. This tiny branch with all its strengths and weaknesses. I feel so blessed that I was given four transfers to serve here.
Also another random miracle, I got my bike fixed for free on a day I was really stressed! hoorah! This city has taught me much about patience and about love. I am so thankful for my Savior and the many ways He helps us in our daily lives. I am eternally greatful for his sacrifice for us. I know He lives.
I love you all!
P.S. Our mission office is moving so this is the new address for any mail:
Schuttersveld 2 2316 ZA Leiden Nederland

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.

September 28, 2013 – Week 53

Conta bay! (that is how is it going in Pa pimento, the beautiful mother language of my lovely companion 🙂
Guess what, news everyone! I am staying in Leeuwarden for 6 more weeks with my copmanion! We are SO happy about it! But it is also crazy, because this will be my 2nd city I’ll spend 6 months in!
This week was so great, I will try to write some meaningful experiences from it.
The beginning of the week/last week, I had some really discouraging and hard moments. Sometimes those challenges just come to you. But I really learned a lot about prayer. Monday night, I asked one of the elders to give me a blessing of comfort, for I was going to have a pretty stressful week with presentations to give in both zone training and sister’s conference. It was such a peaceful experience and really an answer to many many prayers. I was given sufficient strength and the presentations were great!
Zone training was just amazing-we did this super fun activity where 2 sisters did a skit – one being the arms the other being the body – putting on makeup. The other activities and workshops also went well and it was nice to see all the hard work be paid off. I presented to the zone about asking inspired questions, using Preach My Gospel and also things I learned in psychology, and then I gave a “pep talk” about fighting discouragement. Pep talk Sister Manning style:)
Sister’s Conference was in the mission home Saturday and INCREDIBLE! I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much love in one day! I received a beautiful letter from my parents, we did service, workshops, and we were reunited with our former companions and friends 🙂 I felt inspired to present about preparing for the temple, using driving and childhood experiences. I wish I had time to type it up 🙂 But I also learned so much there!
Well Sunday we called “Happy Early Halloween” because a lot of things that could go wrong did haha. A rocky Relief Society lesson, dropped appointments, and an investigator getting really freaked out because of anti-information she read on the internet. But despite all of that, it was a great day 🙂 Speaking of Halloween, my companion is super funny. She loves surprise scaring me and taking pictures of it. She does this with many of her companions and now has a collection of them for me! She is so sneaky 🙂
But we had a nice moment together Sunday. We were walking to our appointment to a young investigator, the one who had told us just before church she wanted to discontinue the lessons because of strange things she read online. Because my bike is broken again and Sister Jaramillo”s bike was stolen (I can’t recall if I have mentioned that – oh yes and I have had to buy a third helmet because my others got stolen so I am expecting those blessings to come pouring in! hehehe) and Sister Jaramillo’s 2nd bike got a flat tire, so we have been taking buses and walking much of the week! So we walked to this investigators house having a heart to heart about testimonies, and Joseph Smith and the likes, and she opened up to me that although she knew the Gospel was true, but she actually wasn’t positive in her testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. It had never occurred to me that my companion, such a spiritual powerhouse that she is quite a wonder about things, being active for only the tender space of two years. As we walked, I told her how one day I was also feeling a lot of doubt but I prayed about it and received a confirmation that is was true. She asked how that came and I said it was just a feeling/voice confirming that I’ve known all along it was true. As we kept walking, suddenly she pulled out her triple and said, this reminds me of my favorite part of the Joseph Smith History, and began to read in dutch the part where he testifies that he had indeed seen a vision and that “He knew it and he knew that God knew it and he could not deny it.” After reading, she said, “Yes I have that feeling of confirmation, of course I know it is true!” and we were filled with the Spirit and had goosebumps, not just from the cold Dutch wind, because we both knew the reality of the truth of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We knew that God knew it. And we could not deny it. Then we went to speak with our investigator, and helped calm her fears and she agreed to continue in the lessons.
We also visited a wonderful recent convert that night, who we were also able to talk about the temple with her as she was preparing to go. What a far-reaching influence my preparation for Sister’s Conference had! I love the Lord’s plan.
I think that’s all for now. I send all of my love! Thanks for putting up with my jumbled thoughts!