Tuesday, September 2, 2014

August 2014

August 3, 2014

Well the funeral was beautiful!!! It was an honor to be there and it meant so much for the Den Bosch ward that we could be there. The service was so Christ centered because J. was so Christ-like. I thought a lot about what our lives say about us, do they reflect Christ? I think we all need to start living a life so that Christ is the main focus at our funeral. It was great to see his parents. They are anchored in hope and in testimony. I was so impressed. They were walking around serving others and making sure everyone was taken care of. At one point the father was searching around for a ride for us. I thought wow this man is so Christ-like he has every excuse to have a pity party and yet he's making sure the missionaries have a ride.
I am being transferred to Groningen! I'm excited and nervous. I have a lot to do there and God has just granted me what I've waited my whole mission for. Time to raise the bar.

August 10, 2014

Welcome to Groningen! City of wonders.
I feel home here. It's a crazy feeling. My first day here my companion says, "Oh yeah one of the guys in the ward was super excited you are here he says you're family and that there is an old Elting woman who is going to pass away soon and he hoped you would come soon enough to talk to her."    WHAT!!!?? So cool. He's a great guy and has already given me his family tree to see the Eltings’ and found a photo of Opa Klaas and Oma Jelly's gravestone. WHAT!!!???
It is literally a dream to be here and so many people know the Elting name here and assume I'm just a Dutch sister. It's cool. We haven't visited family members yet that will come when we have more time. Missionary work here is booming and I'm with such a hard working companion! I'm stoked to work with Sister Wood she has already taught me so much! We work overtime here!! Haha There are just sooooo many investigators to keep track of. I didn't know this could ever be a problem. We finally got a planning session in yesterday because we were almost at both of our breaking points. One investigator came to church yesterday and he stayed for like a half hour then disappeared. He had like a panic attack and so we had to go try to salvage that (thankfully it turned out okay) then we were running late to our next appointment. Ahh! The day before we had a meeting in Zwolle but the trains weren't working and we ended up being soooo late to all of our appointments but everyone was so patient with us and all of our appointments went through.
The craziest thing about all of our investigators is because this is a student city they are all SOOO smart. We are teaching a few philosophers so needless to stay my studies have turned from peaceful edification to avid, desperate scarfing. But hey.
One day we were rushing to an appt. (we were going to be late) and we passed three 20ish year old guys who were dressed like missionaries as we passed we heard one ask, "If Jesus exists, why do so many babies die?" But we couldn't stop because we would be late, but we both felt prompted to stop. Well we go to our appointment and she wants to reschedule and wasn't expecting us. AHHHHH! So we had like an hour and we both realized that we should have just followed the prompting because God knows better!!! Sooooooo we decided to hunt them down. We are going all around and finally we find them and had a REALLY great talk with them. Only one of them really had any interest in learning but it was so cool to talk to them. It was really great because they kept asking questions they thought they would stump us but of course through the gospel of Christ you can answer those questions of the soul and they were shocked and satisfied with all of the answers. It was so wonderful to be able to just have the answers to questions that haunt so many people. What a blessing!

August 18,2014

Well Groningen is wonderful! Unfortunately it is SOOOO cold but hey that's what we get for serving in the North Pole. We found 6 new investigators this week! We are so blessed. School starts here this week and it is already soooo busy. I love working in a college city!
First miracle of the week was on Monday night. We had a couple potentials to look up and we had no success and it was raining while the sun was shining (a foreshadowing) so we look up and saw a rainbow so we followed it to do some door knocking and....no success. But then we had one more person to look up and it was really our last chance we still had 40 ish minutes before we could go in and it was cold so we hoped (for selfish reasons) someone would let us in. We knock on this lady's door who was not so positive last time but she had been reading in the book of Mormon we gave her and found answers to her questions. She invited us in and we had a beautiful lesson with her. She said she had lost her faith after her grandma died pretty recently but when she read the Book of Mormon she found it again. The craziest thing is that she doesn't speak Dutch all that well but the Book of Mormon was in Dutch but she had just read the first two chapters over and over again so she could understand. We told her we could get her a Book of Mormon in her own language and she was soooo happy. It was soo cool. We are meeting with her this week again.
Also we had another wonderful miracle. When I knew I was going to Groningen I felt like I needed to contact J.’s grandma who is an inactive here. Well we get a call from a man from Alkmaar and he says that he set up an appointment with her and wanted us to be there. It was such a miracle to talk with her and recognized me. She has come back to church and yesterday when I saw her at church I said, "I’m glad you are here!" and she says, "of course I'm here it can't otherwise!" (doesn't quite translate in English)
Later this week we found this great couple who just started going to a church and when we knocked on the door with a book about Christ the man made an appointment instantly!  We met with them and it was such a great lesson we look forward to going back this week!

Shout out to Brittany:
This week we went by a potential from Russia. She is a sassy old lady with BROKEN Dutch.  When we got inside I told her that I had a friend who lived for a while in Novosibrisk (spelling?) and she got so excited and started speaking to me in Russian. Because her Dutch is just as hard to understand as the Russian I was just playing along and I think she just thought we understood. I needed you Brit!

Alsoooooooo, a brother from the ward took us to an Elting woman who lives down the street and when he introduced me to her she just smiled so big and almost started crying. She is so precious and sassy. She is in her 90s and in a nursing home. It was wonderful to talk with her she said she knew Klaas Elting!! Super cool

August 24th, 2014

This week was overwhelming. Train rides and meetings and meetings and meetings and train rides and not sleeping in our own beds and finally Saturday evening my body just had had enough. Seriously flesh is weak! My mind was ready to go more but my body flipped and I got really sick. A weird sick though and although I was really doubting being able to go to our appointments the next day let alone church. I went to sleep and the next day I did fine. This is why I'm convinced that the worst torture method would be sleep deprivation. All I needed was a good night's rest in my own bed. Thankfully.
The greatest miracle however is with a wonderful investigator. She has had (I would argue) the worst life imaginable. But she is just good. Inside and out, a good person who was dealt a REALLY bad hand. We had an appointment  last night with her. We racked our brains planning the lesson but couldn't seem to grasp anything to teach her so when we sat down. Sister Wood asks simply what she would like to talk about that day. This led to her telling us that she has been asking God what she needs to do and that He is calling her to our church. She wondered about being baptized a second time but said her answer was a simple "yes" She told us she is planning on quitting smoking this week and that she wants us to help her keep busy. She also said that she wants to have quit smoking for 4 weeks before baptism but that she wants to set a date for the end of Sept. or Oct. Sheis wonderful and also told us that she'll be in church from now on. Needless to say we are sooooo excited. Pray for her!!
This week I've learned a lot about being a better teacher. About preparing an environment where the Spirit can enter and testify of truth. I have been able to do a little self-inflection (is that a thing?) but I've been on my mission for a while now and I have read and memorized the doctrine we are to teach and so I've become quite casual in teaching it. You could say I've been leaning on my own understanding. I remember hearing in the MTC just how we should never underestimate the challenge that each lesson will be. In Groningen this is especially true. People ask questions that I don't have answers to. It's been soo great and humbling. There is so much I don't know about the gospel and that is okay. I've come to know that a testimony of the restoration is the fundamental that we should build on, and I'm just grateful to have the eternities to keep learning because there just isn't enough time!!!

August 31, 2014

Well this week has been busy, busy. More traveling and traveling and just rushing from one appointment to the next. It's been fun though and the weather has been nicer:) One of our investigators  chose a baptismal date....Sept 27th! She is wonderful! We worked hard this week getting to know members and it is funny and interesting to see the cultural differences within this little country. We finally got an appointment with a young single adult investigator and he wants a new beginning! It was great to teach him and tell him that through Jesus Christ you can begin anew anytime, anywhere!
I think you'll be proud to know that we had a pioneer celebration where my companion fiddled (she learned in a week) and I taught line dancing! SOOOOO fun! We did relay races and played stick pull and leg and arm wrestling and watermelon seed spitting. Man, that was really crazy to experience again, we loved it.
I talked with some kids yesterday who yelled "you're fancy!" (rough English translation) at us. So we chatted for a bit and it was really cool. The girls were like 9 or so and they heard my accent so they got excited and wanted to say things in English. So cute. They asked why I was here and I told them that my companion and I tell people about Jesus and asked if they knew anything about Jesus. They all got really excited and said they did and one of the girls told me that she was named after Rebekka in the bible. Man, kids are so good! I left them with a card and was reminded about Elder Kruisinga (one of the senior couple men). As a young teenager he would go to church even though he wasn't a member but the missionaries took no thought to try to teach him because he was so young. Later fortunately he became a member but I thought, hey I'm going to contact these young girls (plus they were asking me all the questions) you never know!


Kijk! This is a big company for drywall or something.....Haha cool, eh?

Zuster Meier and a ward member with Chelsea

Chelsea and her MTC companion Zuster Andersen 

Biking with
 Zuster Meier

Chelsea and Elder Ipson on his last day.

Last day in Haarlem

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 6, 2014

Hello happy July. Wow time is flying. After a very unsuccessful week last week we buckled down and got to work. I have been studying a lot about consecration and about what it takes to consecrate our actions. I'm beginning to feel the difference between dedication and consecration. We worked hard to consecrate our time and efforts this week and saw some cool things and this next week we are FULL with appointments.

And just to add icing to the cake our ward leaders are beginning to really respect us (this is a big deal as it takes a while to earn the trust of the Dutch). We had a dinner apt with the relief society president and we were 20 minutes late which is TERRIBLE in Dutch culture, but because neither my companion or I wear a watch we had no idea and we left when the Spirit told us to. We were helping another sister in the ward who had just had an appendectomy and when we showed up 20 minutes late to the RS president's house we thought we were going to be slaughtered. But we told her what we had been doing and she had no idea that that sister was even home yet and she was so grateful that we had thought to go visit her. I'm just saying...throw your watches away. Time is irrelevant. It's the Lord's time anyway so why don't we use it the way he would like us to?

We picked up some new investigators and are working with some inactive members. I have to say I have a great love for reactivation. To help a person remember their testimony is almost sweeter than helping someone gain one. I love inactives!

Yesterday was fast Sunday! We were taught in relief society a lesson by a man about the priesthood. It was interesting...and he kind of got slaughtered and although I shouldn't say this it was deserved. He came in so mighty and told the sisters that it takes time to prepare to give a blessing. Okay, yes I can agree, but then he says "so don't get mad if we tell you that you have to wait a week". Oh man! The sisters (myself included) were not having that. NO brethren, when Elder Holland says “Be Ready” he means it, and it made me so grateful to have the priesthood in my home where I can trust that I can receive a blessing when I need it. I can't imagine my home without the priesthood I would not have it any other way. Thank you worthy priesthood holders for being ready.

One of our investigators was supposed to be baptized on Saturday but it looks like it's going to be longer than expected. He's so close, and he's the only thing standing in his way. He needs lots of prayers.

So Fourth of July was uneventful here:) my companion and I sang patriotic songs all day and ate a red cake while I had to soak my feet in apple cider vinegar while weekly planning. Yes, my athlete's foot or something like that is back...woohoo so that was a nice holiday.

July 14, 2014

Well, we got permission to watch the World Cup and we lost.  :(   Nederland is devastated, it was tragic to say the least but they played really good and classy. I was proud.

We have a new investigator.  He's pretty cool and he's been to church three times already, and he told us on Wednesday, in our first apt that he would be baptized.  One of our investigators set our next apt for Aug 13th and another had a setback and was unavailable to meet, so we'll just say things are a little slow right now. We're working hard though and the fruits will come we know that.

This week I have learned how unorganized I am with everything and well, I am trying to learn how to do that better. This next week comes with a lot of responsibilities and while I’m looking forward to it I realize my weaknesses, but hey, Ether 12:27. “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

Well this is a lame email I know I don't have much to say other than the church is true and the work will go forth no matter what. There are dry spells in our lives and those are opportunities to learn and grow I know that.

In other news Zuster Meier and I have started this thing where we send a little text to the sisters and the zone leaders every day with a joke or a challenge. It is quite entertaining. We call it #scattersunshine. Haha.

July 21, 2014

“Never let earthly circumstances disable you spiritually” Elder Hallstrom April 2010

This week has been awesome. First of all I was on exchanges in Amsterdam and we taught a girl our age from Taiwan. She had never prayed before so we taught her about the Godhead and how to pray. At the end she prayed. “Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you that I can meet nice people here in Amsterdam. Thank you that my family let me come here to study. And...are you really there?....in the name of Jesus Christ amen.” We all open our eyes and are all tearing up. It was just a wave of the Spirit a tsunami really. Then she says “I don´t know why but I feel like I want to cry.” We told her that, that was an answer from Heavenly Father through the Spirit to her. It was beautiful! She is so humble and wonderful. They set an appointment up with her for the next day. I hope it went well.

We taught one of our investigators about the word of wisdom and challenged him to try it out. He was skeptical but he´s going to try and that is all we can ask!

I learned a lot this week about the government of God and how it is based on revelation and councils. https://www.lds.org/training/wwlt/2013/hastening/ward-council-and-mission-leaders?lang=eng
Man, when councils are done correctly. Without judgment and only looking for solutions, miracles happen. I am so grateful for how the church is run!

This last week there was much to do and I finally realize the power that comes when we are ``treasuring up`` the words of Christ. It´s true that when we are focused on good things, thinking about how to help others and about just questions, when it comes down to it I have what I need when I need it. It´s a freaky concept,  but true.

Sooooo, this week feed my sheep took on a very literal meaning. This is Zuster Meier, the sheep did not want the Book of Mormon. Sad!

 July 28, 2014

"Will we respond with love when an opportunity is before us to make a visit or phone call, write a note, or spend a day meeting the needs of someone else?" Elder Rasband

This week we had zone training! It was lots of fun. I spoke about being a consecrated missionary and did a training on communication. Elders Ipson and Chantry did a great job and making sure everything went smoothly.

On Wednesday however I received some bad news. My favorite family from Den Bosch, well their little boy drown on Tuesday. It has been really an interesting week. There have been so many deaths lately in the news and yet nobody that I've known personally until now. I called them as soon as I could and it was such an inspiring phone call. First of all, what do you say to parents who just lost a child?  The first thing the boy’s father says to me is "of all the missionaries....you were his favorite".  Oh man that killed me then he says, "Lovely Sister Elting, most of the time parents go to the spirit world before the child but this time our boy went first, and you know his favorite song was ‘I Hope They Call Me On a Mission' so he's just preaching the gospel in this lovely way to my mom and my sister."  What beautiful faith!!!! We talked a bit more and I told them I have some videos of him on my camera of him singing "How Great Thou Art" and he invited me to the funeral and I told him I would ask but that I didn't think I could come. Den Bosch is quite far. The next day I called president and he said that my companion and I should go. Man, I am so grateful to be able to go. We'll be going tomorrow to Den Bosch.

 I have gained such a love this week for prayer and the Atonement. I know that God answers our prayers because of many instances but particularly this week. The Atonement of Jesus Christ can swallow up ANY pain or sorrow. There are literally no limits to this wonderful gift. I wondered this week after receiving so much strength why I sometime forget to use the Atonement for just everyday things. Of course we seek or even blame God when tragedy strikes but why are we not seeking His strength and guidance daily.

The Plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness is not an eternal state of happiness but a hope despite tragedy. This little boy was one of the precious pure spirits that was needed to do work on the other side. In God´s plan of happiness the relationships we have built here on earth are not meant to end with death and that is what I know with all my heart.

*We are devastated by this news and our hearts are breaking for this family.  In Chelsea's letters, while she was in Den Bosch, she spoke often of this sweet little boy and loved him so much.  He brought a lot of joy to her while she was serving in that area. This family took such great care of Chelsea by feeding her and being a huge comfort and support during the holidays and her birthday.  I will be forever grateful to them for the love they have shown her.  Please join us in praying for them during this time of sorrow. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

June 2014

***The big news from Chelsea this month is that she has asked to extend her mission.  So instead of coming home on October 28th of this year, she will be coming home on November 19th. ***

June 30, 2014

WORLD CUP!!!!!! Well Nederland is undefeated so far. GO orange!!!  World cup here is greatness. It's probably the one thing Nederlanders are united in. We are not allowed to watch it but there is no need because every time we score the entire neighborhood, yea, the entire country hoots and hollers and toots these really loud horns and yells "Hup Holland Hup!" it is soooooooo cool.  After the game is over, and we've won, when you walk down the street there is just a brotherhood. People look at you and then start yelling and then you have to yell back it's quite entertaining. We were on a bus last night after the game and everyone was tooting their horns at the bus driver and he was just honking the horn like the whole way it was priceless. Also EVERYONE is wearing orange.

This week we had a missionary activity where we invited one of the ladies in our ward to speak about her experience living in China. It was sooooo great. Our Relief Society President  placed an ad for the activity in the newspaper and all of the sudden, so many unfamiliar faces walked in. It was sooooooo great! Also my companion and I have decided we need to invade China and free all the illegal children...who said that?
This week we've been working with the zone leaders for a plan for the zone. The zone leaders are Elder Chantry and Elder Ipson. It is Elder Iipson's last transfer and we've decided on a theme that is SO him. We are going military style. Basically they sent out recruiting letters to all of the zone members requesting their help on a secret mission to find "the bag" and well, we don't have all of the training figured out but we are going to do a training to help us all become more converted and eventually open "the bag" which hasn't quite been located yet...haha

Well, I have studied much about communication lately. There is an article in the February  2014 Liahona about communicating with a spouse and think it may be one of the most valuable lessons I have learned and I have still so much to learn. But basically there are 3 types of communication 1. surface→ schedules, happenings in the day 2. personal→ dreams, hopes, fears, likes and dislikes and 3. validating→ compliments, noticing how one is feeling and empathizing.
Last transfer Sister Schwab and I did a week where we focused on validating people and it was such a great experience. I think validation is the most important type of communicating with others.
well i hope you have a good week i love you and will talk to you next week:)

June 9, 2014

Well, my companion and I just got done cleaning pigeon poop for two hours off of our balcony.
I HATE BIRDS!!!! They wake us up in the morning at like 6 and they make babies on our balcony and then the babies die and then they rot and they just poop everywhere. My companion and I have had it. We have tried nearly all the suggestions from other missionaries to get rid of them, but seeing as we are hardly ever home they just do what they please....ugh.

Glad I got that off my chest.

Well this week was a great week. We went and played at the dunes for P-day last week and that was loads of fun!! We were all really sore for a couple of days. Our investigator who has a baptismal date is AMAZING! He starts our appointment out with telling us that he was awakened at 2 in the morning the night we had left last week and he just kept being haunted by the question "What's the difference? What's the difference?" He couldn't sleep for the rest of the night, (At this point my companion, myself and our joint teach are like "the difference between what?) but he continues and says he gets up and starts to read the bible looking for answers, and then he says "I found the answer to what the difference is between Joseph Smith and John Wesley" (John Wesley is the founder of the Methodist religion which Our investigator is a part of) he proceeds to read us the scripture that out of the mouth of two witnesses shall every word be established, (we're thinking oh no) but then he says "and then I knew. Both Joseph Smith and John Wesley were servants of God." (uhhhh...) "BUT," he says "while John Wesley was a servant of God, Joseph Smith was a prophet." BLESS THE HEAVENS!!! It was so amazing. Then he just starts testifying about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith as a prophet and I am still to this day confused as to how he drew that conclusion but the Lord works in mysterious ways. He began the Methodist church in Amsterdam and it has grown to 300 people and now he is to be baptized here. It is proving to be a hard transition for him. He needs prayers.
Also another investigator came to Stake Conference it was her first time ever in church. President Uchtdorf and Elder Andersen spoke. After the meeting she told us it was different than what she expected. We asked, "better or worse?" Worse she says. Well, she then told us she just wants it to sink in and that all of what was said went right over her head. A.K.A. she does not want to meet with us again. We testified to her and told her that it wasn't ever meant to just come in one day. Sister Schwab told her to have patience with herself and with God and then testified of the church as the true church. She begins to cry. She told us that she wants to feel passionately about something, like we do about the gospel. She told us that baptism might be her answer but that she wants to take it slow. After standing for a bit with tears streaming down all of our faces she just hugs me for a long time and then Sister Schwab, and we say that we love her and she says she loves us too. She then takes out her agenda and is planning to come on Sunday again to church. It was the biggest turn around I have ever seen. I never knew I could love these random strangers so much. She is a kindred spirit. Pray for her too!
Amid all of these wonderful moments we decided to stop visiting one investigator and another told us that she does not want to meet anymore. Every week is a roller coaster.
Another beautiful moment of the week is when we had a missionary activity in our ward, where we asked a new American couple to talk about where they are from. It's a chance for the ward to get to know members from other countries in the ward and also a great excuse to invite your non- member friends. The place was packed!!! They played the national anthem, I cried (man I haven't heard that song in a long time). We ate yummy southern food, line danced and now the sisters in Ijmuiden have a new investigator!! Beautiful!!
This week has been a blast, we've seen so many miracles, and it's hot, and the sun is shining!! What more could we want!?

Monday, June 2, 2014

My week has been really good.  Not wearing a watch has taught me a lot. I am more aware of how much the Lord can do for me, if I but let Him.  I have learned, so far, a lot about BEING where I am when I am there.  Sometimes I will catch myself looking at the clock on the wall while in and appointment, knowing that we need to leave soon but then I am instantly chastised because I should be 100% there while I'm there. Sort of like the man who chases after two rabbits and catches none. In that way I have felt our appointments have been better and that we are learning to rely on the Spirit more.

On Sunday we left a dinner appointment and usually when we leave this lady's house we have to run to catch a bus, but this time we felt we could walk. Along the way I stopped a man and began to talk to him...fully aware that we needed to leave. But it was cool because the conversation just wrapped itself up, it wasn't rushed and we left on great terms.  The man said he wasn't really interested but that he would look at the website. After talking with him we sprinted because we felt the need to and as we were sprinting a man on the street looks at his watch and yells "You better hope it is late!"  As we were sprinting there came the bus and the bus driver was just cracking up. We got on it perfectly and whether it WAS late or not, I will never know because we didn't have watches, but what I DO know is that God knew we needed that bus and he also knew that we needed to talk to that man.

This week has been one of the most amazing weeks of my mission. I have not felt so often that I was not actually speaking the words coming out of my mouth.  I have felt, this week, like I an instrument in the hands of the Lord and it is so interesting to experience.  One experience led to a man who had been investigating the church for 2 years to finally set a baptismal date.  July 5th!!!! Another led an entire room of people to understanding. We had a lesson at church for our investigators, recent converts and less active members. It's a class of about 15 people and one of the members teaches it and it was going a really weird direction. My companion intervened a little and brought it back just a little.  I sat in that class so uneasy. I knew I had to say something because we weren't feeling the Spirit, I just didn't know what. I just raised my hand and began to speak. The words were not my words, that dutch was not my dutch, and the entire room was still. I can't even recall really all that I said but I know that it was clear and it was bold. It was really PREACHING the gospel.  Two of the people in the class were at church for the first time and they BOTH came to me afterwards and thanked me for what I had said. It was so bizarre and it is the biggest goal I think I have in my life, to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord at all times.

The experiences from this week have been absolutely incredible.

Sunday, June 1, 2014