Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Safe arrival in Belgium

From e-mail received from Chantelle's mission president.

March 31, 2009

Dear Brother and Sister Fowler,

Sister Fowler has arrived safely! She looks excited and enthusiastic about her mission. We are delighted to have her with us. Her first assignment will be in the city of Haarlem...

We are continually impressed by the eagerness and strong testimonies of the new missionaries arriving in the mission field. We are happy for her addition to our missionary corps and assure you that we will do everything possible to make this a rewarding, cherished, and spiritual experience.

As you know, missionary work can be quite demanding. To help maintain a positive attitude for your missionary, communication from family and friends is especially important and should be supportive. May we make the following suggestions: write each week; make your letters optimistic and encouraging; avoid references to problems at home unless absolutely necessary; show genuine interest in your missionary’s daily activities and especially in her accomplishments.

Sister Woodland and I wish to thank you for this ambassador of the Lord. We know that you will be blessed during the service of Sister Fowler. We have frequent opportunity to review each missionary’s situation and needs. We hold zone conferences one month and personal interviews the next month. We do our best to love, encourage, sustain all of our missionaries, and to take personal interest in each one of them. They keep me informed as to their specific circumstances through a weekly letter. If you know of anything that would help me in assisting your missionary, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Know that your missionary is in the hands of the Lord and under His protection (Matthew 28:19).

We are most appreciative of your constant support for your missionary.

Sincerely yours,

Paul R. Woodland

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mijn laatste week in de MTC: Week 8

From e-mail dated 25 March, 2009

Only 5 days until I leave for Belgium! CRAZY!!!
It's been a GEWELDIG (wonderful) week, and I feel nervous to leave, but so excited at the same time. I'm not sure when I'll be able to write again- so I'll try and fit in as much as I can. The next letter you receive will be from Europe!...
So, we got our flight plans last Thursday. We weren't expecting them to come until Friday, so when my District Leader handed my flight plans to me at dinner, I almost screamed! But, we aren't supposed to read any letters or anything in the cafeteria, so we all sat there with our flight plans on our laps and ate SUPER fast then ran out the door so we could look at them. We were basically super stoked for the rest of the night. Sister Spencer came in to teach us and we had all hung our flight plans on the blackboard--but she didn't see that--instead she noticed that we were all antsy and pretty much dancing in our seats. She finally noticed the flight plans on the board, and she DID scream! It was awesome! We are so excited to be headed out. We leave the MTC at 5:00 am on Monday--super early. Our flight leaves Salt Lake at 8:35 am... to Atlanta where we have a 3 hour layover until we leave at 5:15 pm... and we will arrive in Brussels at 8:05 am (which would be midnight here). We are stoked!...
As for a new address for my blog, since it can be seen by anyone, ... it needs to be the mission home address because they don't want people to be able to come track us down or anything :)...
Belgium Brussels/Netherlands Mission
Sister Chantelle Fowler
87, Blvd Brand Whitlock
1200 Brussels
Okay, so what has happened this week in the MTC? As I said before, deze week was geweldig (this week was amazing!)!
I'm officially moved into the new sisters room and Zuster Ekstrom is my companion until I leave (I'm not sure if I told you that). We also get two new sisters in the Branch today--one is going to Ogden and the other is going to Tacoma Washington.
Thursday was a great day--minus the fact that my teacher, Broeder Bond, was super sick. Poor man. (He's feeling better now though--thankfully). We had some good teaching experiences, and I ran into my good friend and co-worker, Sanita Ley. She just came into the MTC last Wednesday. I absolutely LOVE that girl! We have been able to sit and talk a bit--catch up on people from Freshman Academy as well as share our feelings about the MTC and being a missionary. It has been good for me to have her here.
Friday we had another English fast- but we had a substitute that doesn't speak Dutch- so it was interesting :) We translated for him and basically did most of the things on our own. It was hilarious, but also really good.
Saturday was a good day as well. We had our last MTC weekly planning session- which was CRAZY! We are all trying to speak Dutch AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE this week. It's insane, but awesome. After planning, we had companionship inventory--and Elder Kramer told me that he and the Elders have been talking and that they've decided that the reason they have progressed so fast was because I expected them to act more than 19 years old when they came in to the MTC, and they are really grateful that I had such high expectations for them to reach. I hadn't really thought of it, actually--but they have definitely met and exceeded my expectations. They are wonderful Elders, and I'm so excited to hear the miracles that follow their faith.
Then Sunday was quite the day. Each week ALL of the missionaries in the branch write a talk, and then they announce who will give the talk in Sacrament meeting. So, this week's topic was Charity and Love. I woke up in the morning with the feeling I would be giving a talk, but I was playing the piano for all of the hymns as well as the musical number, so I figured there was NO WAY they would call me up. Well- nonetheless, I was called up to give a talk. It was a good experience for me because I'm really praying every day to have more charity for everyone I come in contact with...
Then, Sunday afternoon we had the chance to participate in the Draper Temple Dedication. Our district got to usher for the dedication, so that was cool. It was neat to feel the spirit of the temple in what is normally the gym at the MTC, but it was temporarily set apart as an extension of the temple, which was cool...
Okay, I only have a couple of minutes left. I've got to run. But I love you all. You are in my prayers every day. I hope that things are going well. Remember that we are all sons and daughters of God. As I was doing my personal study in Preach My Gospel this morning, I read about prayer and then turned to the Bible Dictionary. Read it, and especially pay attention to the paragraph about being a child of God.
Ik houd van jullie!
Met al mijn liefde,
Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Geweldig ervaringen! MTC: Week 7

From e-mail dated 18 March, 2009

Hoe gaat het met jullie? (How's it going with ya'll?)This week has been full of AMAZING experiences and there are so many more to come in the next few days. I'm super stoked! Where to begin?
Okay, first - thanks for the letters and the package. The caramel brownies are phenomenal--heel lekker! Het is een van mign lievelings eten (very delicious! It is one of my favorite foods). Thanks for the shirts, as well. I really appreciate that. Sorry for the hassle. Tell Renee thanks for her letter. She cracks me up. I love that girl! Tell her that you say "thank you" by saying "bedankt" or "dank u wel." ...
Okay - so - I'm not sure how much time I'll have for writing letters for the next few weeks -Because 1) This week I have to move rooms because all of the sisters that were in my room from my branch left this morning, so I need to move into the room with the other sisters in my branch that just arrived last week (there are 3--Sister Ekstrom who is going to my mission [we just got made companions on Monday for the duration of my stay at the MTC], Sister Reed and Sister Robson who are going to Denmark). We are the only 4 sisters in the branch now--and it will be that way until two new sisters arrive next week. 2) Next week I'll be packing to leave! I'm leaving in only 12 days!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!! I'm so excited, and a little freaking out - but only a little--mostly excited. And 3) I'm not sure when our P-day is when I get to the Netherlands - so I'll get an email off next week, but I'm not sure about when I'll be writing after that or if I'll get any snail mail off to anyone. So, if you could tell everyone thanks for their letters and support! Kristi, Gaelin, Kate, Amy, Charisse, Shane, and Liz! I will do my best to write everyone back as quickly as possible, but it may take a few weeks.
So, as I briefly mentioned--I officially have a companion again. Sister Ekstrom is from Alaska and is going to the Netherlands. She is AMAZING! She is my companion until I leave and then she will be in a threesome with the Danish Sisters. So, we are pretty much sticking together as a foursome so that it isn't a weird transition for any of them when I leave.
These new sisters are amazing! I absolutely love them already. I'm so excited to get to know them better over these next couple of weeks.
Okay, so on to my experiences that have happened this week. It has been a phenomenal week, full of ups and downs, but the ups DEFINITELY outweight the downs.
We have a district goal to speak as much Dutch as possible until we leave--so we are having complete English fasts and Fridays and English fasts during every meal. It is amazing! I'm learning so much quicker as I try to say everything I can in Dutch. The Lord definitely blesses you as you work hard.
Last Friday, during our English fast, we taught Broeder Bond as our progressing investigator, "Tijs." It was AMAZING! The spirit was super strong. We watched "Finding Faith in Christ" and testified of the reality of the Savior. (I definitely recommend watching the movie for FHE this week). Saturday in my review of progress meeting with Broeder Bond, he thanked me for the lesson and said it was the best lesson we had given--and that he left the MTC that day feeling his testimony had been strengthened. It was AWESOME!
Then Monday we taught the second lesson and the word of wisdom in Dutch. It was a little shaky language wise, but the spirit was there and it ended up going really well...
Then last night was our devotional night. I absolutely LOVE Tuesdays at the MTC. All of the Elders were making guesses about which general authority would come--whether it would be a Seventy or one of the Twelve. They asked me my guess, and I said L. Tom Perry. Well, now the Elders think I have the spirit of prophecy or something - but really, I'm just a good guesser! He talked about the importance of companionships and how companions are so vital to the work. It was really good for me to hear. I think it is going to be interesting for me to actually have a full time companion.
Other than that - this Sunday we get to participate in the Draper Temple dedication. The auditorium is becoming "an extension of the temple." Wow! What an experience! I'm so excited that we get this opportunity.
Well, I'm almost out of time!!! AAAH! So, I'm going to book it. I'll let you know about the dedication next week. I love you all! Thanks for everything!
Met al mijn liefde!
Zuster Fowler

Friday, March 13, 2009

Say you love it, and you will! MTC: Week 6

From e-mail dated 11 March, 2009

Things this week are going well. I can't believe it's only two and a half weeks until I leave for the Netherlands! CRAZY!
Sister Younkin left for Denmark on Monday--so these past couple of days have been interesting, to say the least, since I don't have a real companion right now and I'm the only sister in my branch with meals and gym and everything at the time I have them. So these last couple of days, I've just had to make sure I'm always with another set of missionaries. The German sisters that I share a room with walk me to class in the morning, then the Elders stick with me all day, then I go with the Norwegian sisters to and from gym, then the Elders take care of me and walk me back to the residence hall at night. It's kind of interesting being passed around--but everyone is super nice about it.
We get a new Dutch sister and two new Danish sisters in the branch today, so the Dutch sister will be my companion until I leave. There isn't currently any room in the room the new sisters will be moving into--so I'll stay in my bedroom with the German sisters and the temple square sisters, then I'll move into the new sisters' room next week after the others have left. Kind of crazy--but when your a solo sister, you get used to craziness.
Let's see, what else happened this week? We taught again in Dutch on Monday--which was good. Elder Kramer and I are getting better at teaching with unity and bringing the spirit. I think it's going to be hard for me to adjust to switch to teaching with a sister :).
Sunday, Sister Elaine S. Dalton came to speak at Relief Society. It was really neat. She talked about the new YW value--Virtue...
The title of my email is from one of my Elders--Elder Conder. He is pretty much hilarious and pulls the most random stuff out of his head. One day when we were talking, Elder Adams was complaining about something (I don't remember what), and Elder Conder all of a sudden said, "Say you love it, and you will!" We all laughed for a minute--but ever since then, whenever something seems overwhelming or when things are a bit rough, someone will say it again. I've found it to be true--optimism is VITAL in life! Look at the bright side of things. In Deuteronomy 17 (I think that is the chapter) it talks about the people of Moses complaining about only getting manna and reminiscing about the days when they had many more luxurious things to eat--sometimes it is easy to be like that--to forget what you really have. Instead, always look at what you DO have and how it can bless your life! Heavenly Father is constantly blessing us--and sometimes we are just too blind to see the blessings. Look for those blessings each and every day. Heavenly Father will do ALL he can to help you in the way that is best for you. I know that He loves us and that He has a plan for us. He has given us the greatest gift of all time--His Son--so that we can receive all the God has. It is only through Christ that that is possible. Humble yourself and turn to Him in every time of need, and He WILL bless you--of that I testify.
Okay, I don't have any time left on the computer, so I must jet.
Ik houd van jullie! (I love you all)
Bedankt voor uw gebeden (Thanks for your prayers)
Met liefde!
Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

MTC: Week 5

From e-mail dated 4 March, 2009

While I'm in the field, I will probably send email more often than I have been. While in the MTC, we only have about 25 minutes on the computer - so I'll try just sending an email this week (because I can type a lot faster than I can write), and then we'll see how things go after that. Like you said, dad, I do like getting letters in the mailbox as well though because I only get to check email once a week - so I have more time to read letters than I do email. Oh, and thanks for the sweet rolls--my Elders and teacher basically love you! :)...
This week we learned how to talk about food. Yummy! Or, I guess I should say, "heel lekker!" It has been fun to be able to use our vocabulary as we have been at meals. We are really trying to speak more Dutch outside of class--meal times, gym, etc. so it has helped with that. We are doing a complete English fast on Friday--no speaking English from when we wake up in the morning until we go to bed at night. It will be intense, I'll let you know how it goes.
This week, Elder Kramer and I taught some of our best lessons yet! We are really getting used to teaching together, studying for the needs of our investigators, and focusing on bringing the spirit to the lessons. Elder Kramer is a really good example for me. As you know, I can be really hard on myself at times--I am very goal oriented and forget to look at how far we have already come. He pointed that out to me and encouraged me to look at what improvements have already been made. Really, we have come such a long way since we entered the MTC 5 weeks ago! 5 weeks ago I had spoken maybe 5 words in Dutch, and now I am teaching entire lessons in Dutch! We are teaching in unity, focusing on the spirit, able to teach to needs, using the scriptures effectively, and improving every time we teach. It is amazing how the Lord works!
Sunday was an awesome fast Sunday. We had mission conference and I learned a lot about being able to constantly improve in being a missionary. Also, the Branch President has called me to be the Relief Society coordination Sister--which basically means I watch out for the needs of the sisters in the branch and help them live the rules 100%.
In our TRC appointment this week we taught the entire first lesson in Dutch--this is the first time we've taught anyone besides our classmates or teachers in Dutch--and we were able to express ourselves and bring the spirit. It is only through the power of God that we have been able to do this!
We've also been able to spend a lot of time outside this week--and it has been BEAUTIFUL!!! I love it! We have studied outside and really enjoyed the beautiful weather--it is SO nice to break away from the classroom for a bit (as much as I love those brick walls...)Okay, well, I don't have a ton of time left, so I want to share something I've been thinking about a lot this week--the atonement. The atonement is SO amazing! ... one thing I've realized is that none of us really understand everything about Christ and the atonement! But what I do know it that it is REAL! I know this because I've prayed about it and received that witness for myself! That is the only way to know if anything in the church is true--to pray--and Heavenly Father will let you know of the truth through the Holy Ghost. There are SO many promises in the scriptures about that! Elder Kramer and I were talking, and he made a great analogy--the atonement is kind of like a TV remote--as a regular person who doesn't study remotes every day of my life, I don't really understand how a remote works, but I do know that it does--and that is enough for me. I know that the atonement is real. I know that Christ lives. I know that he loves each of us. I know that through Him we can live together forever as a family. I know that he can make us clean--He can restore us to the presence of our Heavenly Father.
Another quick thought - hopefully I'll get it all out before my next 2 minutes is up - just as the church couldn't be reformed--it had to be restored in it's fullness in order to have the priesthood and all of the everlasting truths--we cannot just be reformed, we must be restored. We must be made new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 talks about becoming a new creature in Christ. And just as Christ was the only one who could restore the Church, he is the only one that can restore us. Okay, I have to go or I'll lose this email! I love you!
met liefde!
Zuster Fowler