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

Missionary Fun!








Temple and Keukenhof

First of all the temple was great. I haven't had that spiritual of an experience in the temple yet. I received a lot of revelation for what the Lord wants from me for these last 6 months.
The Keukenhof was a dream!!!! So beautiful. I wish you could see this stuff and smell it and taste it. Spring here is a dream, it is the best time of year to be here!

We have a baptism date! Our investigator will be baptized on May 17th!
My companion and I are calling the last 6 months "Operation: transformation" and as part of my transformation I set daily personal goals and it's been really improving my missionary work.  It has been a hard week so far and I expect nothing less for these next 6 months.  I feel some big challenges coming, mountains to climb, eh!

We have 5 new investigators this week! We had an amazing lesson with them, it was completely led by the Spirit. On our way to that appointment we took a wrong turn and found ourselves in a parade. It was like a miniture rose parade.  All the floats were of flowers and it was awesome and quite funny how it all happened. But hey, it's Nederland!

Yesterday was Herdenkings dag which is like their Memorial day and it was also fast and testimony meeting, so it was cool to hear so many war stories from members of the ward and how the stories of the parents in concentration camps or in the military has strengthened their faith.  It was so interesting to hear it because it really was not that long ago.

So our church building has been under construction so we've been meeting in another church. We decided we wanted to go to their service as it is right before ours and we thought it would be cool. Well we show up and 9:32 and the service started at 9:30 and they had locked the doors. We literally couldn't go.  I thought about how sad that was that if your are late to church even by two minutes you just can't go to church for the week.  Sad.

Today is the day when Nederland was freed from the Germans in WWII so we went to the Anne Frank house.  Sooooo cool.  We weren't allowed to take pictures. Also, we met some Mormons in line there on vacation and they bought our tickets! It was so nice and so dang awesome!
Also we celebrated my one year mark this week with cheesecake!

Both Zuster Schwab and I are staying in Haarlem! And we're getting another set of sisters in our ward in the city right next to us... should be interesting.
Operation: transformation is going well.  Our theme for this week is operation: invitation. We are working  on inviting EVERYONE to learn about the gospel, that means a lot of contacting. Also, Zuster Schwab and I have really been working hard on our Dutch. We try to only speak Dutch to each other and slow Dutch, so as to pronounce it better.  One of the old ladies in the ward complimented our improvement without knowing we had been doing that, so hey, it seems to be working!

So I was reading the talk by Elder Packer called "The Test" and the whole time I just kept thinking "Obama needs to read this" then it came to me. I can just send it to him, so I wrote him a letter about why i sent it and I hope he reads it.  It's actually a very supportive and uplifting letter just explaining that as saints we pledge allegiance to our country because of our love of God and because of the freedom we have learned to understand that comes from obeying God's commandments.  I actually feel super good about my letter to him and even my companion read my letter and said she thought it was a great idea.
Whether he reads it or not I guess I'll never know, but I felt very prompted to write it even if it is just for myself to have pledged allegiance to a country I didn't think I cared all that much about until now.  You should read that talk, it is powerful. Man the early saints are soooo awesome!

In other news two long lost members showed up to church on Sunday!!! And we had our baptism. What an amazing experience.  He told us he feels like he had been missing something in his search for the right religion until he received the Holy Ghost.  So amazing!

The weather has been a dream!! We went to the beach to have a meeting with our ward mission leader on Sunday, it was GREAT! Also, we went to the beach today too, oh man good stuff!

This week we had zone conference where we learned from the Den Haag Stake President how to get into facebook referral houses.  We have received 545 referrals and we need to be getting in the houses of those that requested.  It is a 9 step approach that is soooo bold.  I love it! We basically walk into their house saying "recht door?" Understanding of the Dutch culture is necessary when hearing this.
We had a super cool lesson with one of our investigators.  He just eats up the gospel but was baptized in another church and doesn't understand why he should be baptized again.  We had a bold lesson about authority and he is going to read Joseph Smith History to get a better understanding.  We are finding that one of the hardest things about teaching investigators is that their families won't support them.  I can understand that to a certain degree but any honest seeker of truth should not be told not to research things for themselves.  This is the case with a few of our investigators. They have testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but are afraid to be baptized because of what their family will think.  We spoke with a man yesterday who is just crazy about his family and I wondered if, heaven forbid, his family was all of the sudden gone.  He would have no more purpose in life. This is what these people are missing. That deeper purpose of life and that assurance that no matter what happens to us or our families, the gospel of Jesus Christ provides a way to have our families forever no matter what.

The past is a foreign country. We went to a big crazy BBQ with a was so American. Everyone talking with everyone and being loud and eating with our hands and just totally American.  It was so odd to me.  I felt super out of place and yeah, I didn't really like it.  I have really come to love the Dutch culture. Knife and fork, reverent civilized conversations, no outbursts of laughter.  Weird how that happens. I have a feeling adjusting back to American culture will be difficult.  Good thing I don't have to do it for a while.

So the biggest change in my mission and on my missionary work happened yesterday.  This professional golfer from Zimbabwe walks into church with her other pro golfer friend.  She was just sharing all these wonderful insights with classes and with our investigators and after a wonderful church service she challenges my companion and I to take off our watches and not wear them ever again.  Zuster Schwab and I are like, "Do you realize we are in the Netherlands where punctuality is the BIGGEST deal? If you are late to an appointment, you better have been hit by a train." So we kind of just blew it off and told her that the night before we sprinted for  15 minutes to a dinner appointment because we were going to be late. (We weren't, by the grace of God) and she says, "Do you think the Spirit could have told you to run?" yes, "you don't need a watch for that" true. In fact that whole experience was guided by God. We had no idea where we were, how close we were, or how to get to the house. We just ran as fast as we could in the direction we felt. Looking at our watches proved to only stress us out more. God knows that it's important for Dutch people that we are on time, but by stressing out about being on time I can tell you I have ignored a lot of spiritual promptings.  Not any more. So after church, Zuster Schwab and I took off our watches (she even threw hers in a canal) and we aren't wearing watches anymore.  Yesterday we already saw cool successes and felt more guided by the spirit because of it.  I'm stoked for the miracles we will see.