Sunday, June 1, 2014

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.

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