Monday, April 27, 2009

Ah, de mooi bloemen!‏

From e-mail dated 27 April, 2009

Well, it's been another great week in Haarlem! ...
Tuesday we went to a dorpje (small city) outside of Haarlem to visit a member and do some langs de deuren. On our way back, we accidentally took the wrong bus-- but it's amazing how Heavenly Father works--the girl we talked to on the bus was going to see her friend in the hospital. We talked with this girl for a while about the gospel and she gave us her number and is interested in hearing more. As we continued talking, we found out that the friend she was going to visit was a girl we talked with on the train only a couple of weeks ago. Zr. Baxter and I both had a really good feeling about the girl from a couple of weeks ago and were really sad when she didn't call us for an appointment--and now here were are talking with her friend who is on her way to visit her in the hospital. Wow. Anyway, we will hopefully meet with both of them soon. Heavenly Father works miracles--helping you take the wrong bus so you can be in the right place at the right time to talk to the right person.
Another miracle this week happened with one of our fabulous investigators named Azelea. We have been teaching her for a while, and it just hasn't really been going anywhere-- but this week she received a priesthood blessing for her health. When we met with her the next time, she said she really felt the power of the priesthood and she was super excited about the gospel. She told us she has asked for work off on Sundays so that she can come to church and she has decided to quite smoking and drinking coffee. Whoa! The power of the priesthood is REAL!
Another kind of crazy miracle happened on Friday. We got a call from the Elders in Amsterdam on Friday during lunch. Elder Nelson and Elder Adams (Elder Adams is from my MTC group) were on the tram and they were talking with a gentleman who really wasn't super interested. However, they noticed that this other lady kept looking at them. Eventually the lady just walked over to them and asked them if they were from a church or something. They started talking to her instead of the man and talked about prophets and baptism. She was extremely interested and said she felt it was true. They set a baptismal date with her in the tram. Well-- turns out that she is from Haarlem! So, we will be meeting with her this week and finding out what is really going on, but we've talked with her on the phone and she is this really sweet lady from Suriname who is extremely excited to learn more about the gospel. I'm excited to meet her!
Other than that-- Zr. Baxter's pedal fell of her bike-- so we're back to achtering op for a few days until it can hopefully get fixed.
Oh, and today we went to Keukenhof! It was SO beautiful! I have some awesome pictures that I'll try to send on. I will definitely be going back there after my mission someday. I got to see Elder Adams and Conder there, which was great--I really miss my MTC Elders--they became like family to me.
Anyway, I have to get going! But know that I love you. I love the gospel! and I love life!

Met al mijn liefde
Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Letter finally received.

From letter dated 31 March, 2009
Note: We finally received this letter that Chantelle sent us from Brussels after her first day in the mission field. She referred to this letter in the blog entry dated April 6, 2009 - GRF.

Hoi mijn Familie!
Well, I made it through all of the traveling & it is now time for bed my first night in Belgium. Today we received some training, and -- well -- Let me start at the beginning. :)
The travel to Belgium was LONG, but good. No problems getting here (well -- one of my luggage pieces broke -- but no biggie - I'll get it fixed). We talked to a few people in the airport & on the plane - good times. Then, going through customs was a good time - the customs officer saw my name tag & started speaking to me in Dutch. Oh, boy! Luckily (or thankfully, I should say), I understood most of it.
When we got out of the airport, President Woodland & the Assistants, as well as a Senior couple were there to greet us. We then went to the mission office for training. A lot of miracles are happening in the mission right now - it's basically on FIRE! Right now there are 50 baptisms set for April 19th - 50 for one day! The Lord is moving the work forward.
After training, the legality paperwork, and interviews, we came and had lunch in the mission office and took an nap - which was much needed - although it was a long plane ride, not many of us got much sleep.
Then we all went on a walk through a beautiful park in Brussels, then went to one of the main tourist squares & contacted. All of the people we spoke with spoke French - but I was paired up with the two French sisters - so they talked (because I can't remember my French so well now -- all that ever comes to mind is Dutch) -- but they couldn't understand what the people said in response -- however I could! It seems that although my French speaking abilities have drastically decreased, my French comprehension has increased! So I helped the sisters know what was being said & how to respond. It was a good time. The spirit was AMAZING!
Then we came back to the mission home and received our "calls".
Are you ready for this?
I'm serving in the city of -- Haarlem! And my trainer is -- Sister Christa Baxter! She is good friends with a lot of my friends & I've met her a couple of times. In fact, my friend Nate White said that if we were ever companions he'd send us a huge package - well, Nate my boy, you'd better get sendin'. :)
I've gotta go, it's almost 10:30...

Gotta run!
Met liefde!
Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Druk, druk, druk (busy, busy, busy)

From e-mail dated 20 April, 2009
Deze week is druk geweest, maar geweldig (this week has been busy, but great)...
It sounds like things in the family have been pretty busy! And crazy weather! I'm feeling super blessed with the weather here in Haarlem--it is GORGEOUS! It's a little chilly in the evenings though... yesterday I forgot to bring a jacket with me. One of the members (Zr. Scholten--she is kind of becoming my mother away from home) came with us on joint teach and at the end of the lesson she came up and threw her sweater over my head telling me that she didn't want me to get sick, so I had to take the sweater. We'll be going to her house for dinner on Wednesday, so I'll return it then. I absolutely love Zr. Scholten--she is AMAZING! In fact, all of the members in Haarlem are fabulous. It's an older ward--there are only 2 kids in primary--so it's a little rough for them. We're really praying to find families right now because the ward needs some young faces.
That's neat that you are thinking about going to the tulip festival. Next P-day we are going to Keukenhof for a Zusters P-day (all of the Sisters in the Dutch side of the mission are coming), and I'm SUPER excited. After we get some pictures developed, I'll send them along.
Okay, so what else has happened this week? Wednesday we had interviews in Den Haag. That meant that we had a great training and got to spend some time with some of the other missionaries in the area. I got to see Zr. Miller there-- a girl I knew in high school. So that was fun! She goes home at the end of this transfer, so I'm glad I got to see her then--and I'll get to see her again next Monday. Interviews took a really long time, so we barely got back to Haarlem in time for our appointments. One of our investigators let us know that she is moving back to Ireland, so we'll be saying goodbye to her this week. She's a really sweet lady, but she isn't really making any progress--she sees us as lief Amerikaanse meisjes (cute American girls) and talks to us about her love life problems-- so we are going to try to get her in contact with missionaries in Ireland... I'm praying for her sake that they'll be Elders so that she will pay more attention to the message and take some action about it.
We've seen some great miracles this week. One being that we were able to get a lot of finding in, even with a long day of interviews in Den Haag and a REALLY long day travelling to Belgium and back on Friday (Zr. Baxter had to go to Belgium for a legality trip, which meant that our whole day was gone--we left our apartment before 8 and didn't get back until after 9). But despite all of that, we found more new investigators this week than in the rest of my short time here. We found 5 new investigators this week!
One is named Magalie--she is from the Congo and she is amazing! And a little miracle that helped with this is that we accidentally grabbed a French Book of Mormon that morning... which happens to be her first language! Oh, Heavenly Father works in marvelous ways! She didn't want to meet with us at her apartment, so we met at the train station and she took us to a cafe. It was a little interesting-- but the spirit was still super strong. She is excited to read from the Book of Mormon and we'll be meeting with her again on Wednesday.
On Saturday we were walking through the park and getting turned down left and right. Then we came up to some older ladies on a bench and just started chatting. They invited us to sit down and we talked about life in general, then got onto the topic of the gospel. Turns out they are sisters, and when they were teenagers some Elders taught them for a bit. They hadn't thought about it for years, but one of the sisters had thought about it as she was going to bed the night before, then here we were. They are cute ladies, and we will be meeting with them again this week.
Heavenly Father really knows what he is doing with this work. I know He lives. I know He loves each of us. I wish I had more time to write-- because we had an amazing experience with one of our investigators and a priesthood blessing last night-- but I'll see if I have time to write it in a letter later today. I've gotta run, but I love you! You are all in my prayers.
Met al mijn liefde,
Zr. Chantelle Fowler

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Het leven van een zendelinge

From e-mail dated 14 April, 2009

Goedemiddag! (Or-- I guess in Utah it would still be goedemorgen!)
We didn't get the chance to email yesterday because it was tweede pass (second Easter) and so everything was closed. So, our mission president had us move two hours of P-day to today so that we could email and do our grocery shopping...
I've decided to spend my email time responding to your emails and questions and then use a letter to write about the things that are going on so that I have enough time to read the emails from president and everything as well--so just fyi, a letter with all of the exciting stories is on the way (or will be after today-- I'm going to try to get some pictures in there as well--).
We have interviews in Den Haag tomorrow, so we will be getting anything the mission home has received then. I'm excited to be going to Den Haag and to spend some time with other missionaries--I think a couple of the Elders who were in the MTC for my first three weeks will be there, and they are amazing, so I'm stoked to get to hear how the work is going for them...
The bike situation is all settled now-- but because of the whole long situation, I spent a lot more on the bike than I expected to before coming-- I didn't really have a choice though-- so I'm praying really really hard that Heavenly Father will bless my bike to have very few problems while I'm on my mission...
I know the church is true and that it is so important to listen to the words of the living prophet. Re-listen to general conference!
Met liefde,
Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Monday, April 6, 2009

In the land of the tulips!

From e-mail dated 6 April, 2009.

Hoi! Here I am, my first P-Day in Haarlem... it is the place where they filmed Best Two Years. It is BEAUTIFUL! I've been super blessed to have gorgeous weather so far. It has only been overcast one day--and even then it wasn't too super cold. It's not hot by any means, basically it's just beautiful!
I'm loving the Netherlands. I can understand most people-- it just takes some time for me to process what they are saying, so I'm not very good at responding yet-- hopefully that will change soon. I'm trying to do my best to participate in the lessons, but that is a bit hard since I finally realize what they've said when it's a little too late to respond-- but it's getting better day by day.
So, the day after I wrote the letter from the mission home (***We finally received this letter. It was posted on April 25, 2009. - GRF***), I travelled to Haarlem. From when we left the mission home to when I walked in my apartment in Haarlem was about another 7 hours. Crazy train rides where they only stop for about a minute and a half at each stop (which means you have to throw your luggage out as fast as you can!) were fun. And I had a couple of really good conversations. One I pray will end up calling the missionaries when he gets back to Brussels. He has a lot of questions about life--all of which can be answered by the gospel!
Since I got to Haarlem, things have been amazing. It's hard, don't get me wrong, but I can see the Lord's hand in everything that we do. I was supposed to have a bike waiting for me when I got here-- but through an unfortunate series of events, it was taken by the gemeente before I arrived. For a couple of days, we did achter op--which means, I rode on the back of my companion's bike. Whoa, buddy! I'm a public health major! I'm already having a difficult enough time with the fact that we don't wear helmets in our mission (we are the only mission in the world that doesn't because the only people in Netherlands who wear helmets are the Germans, and so if you wear a helmet you get rocks thrown at you--basically, it's more dangerous in the Netherlands to wear a helmet than not), and now I'm riding on the back of my companion's bike! (P.S. I'll mail you some pictures soon). Then a member in the ward let me borrow a bike--but it's pretty hilarious--it is a mini bike, and pretty much I feel like a circus clown wearing a skirt and riding a mini bike, but it got me where we needed to go-- until the chain fell off-- so now we're back to achtering op. But, we are picking up the bike from the gemeente today, so it should be a bit easier from here on out. Basically, we've just been laughing a lot because every time something happens to the bike situation, we can't do anything else but laugh.
I've seen miracles happen every day so far on the mission. We have met some amazing people. One lady, named Fatima, we met on the bus my first day here. She and her grandson were on their way to her daughter's house. She started talking to us and then asked us what we were in Haarlem for. She told us that we had a light about us and that we exuded love and that she wants that in her life. We got her number to set up an appointment and tell her why we were that way. The gospel truly does bring a visible happiness to people! It makes us different!
Then, Friday, we were teaching a new investigator who was introduced to us through a member. She had felt like her life was not going in the direction she wanted it and she wanted to come closer to Christ. The only person she knew who was Christian was this member, so she asked him what made him different and he said, I have some people for you to talk to. Anyway, this was her second lesson, and we taught about priesthood authority. She said she had goosebumps and that her mom told her that if she ever had goosebumps, it was a sign that God was with you. She said she wants to be baptized! So we set a baptismal date, and she is planning to get baptized the first week in June.
One last miracle, and then I'll write a couple of funny stories and answer your questions (we still only get half an hour--and yes, family is still the only ones that can write email). Saturday we were going langs de deuren (knocking doors) in a quaint little area of town. We got let into 3 houses on one street. One of the ladies who let us in was named Margreet. We were giving a brief lesson about the restoration and she started to cry. She asked if she could take notes and then told us she had gotten an impression that she would received messengers with an important message today--and she felt like we were it. Amazing! The Lord is definitely preparing people to accept his gospel! It has nothing to do with us missionaries, except that we need to be living worthy of the spirit by working hard, being obedient and preparing ourselves to teach--but the spirit is the one that really lets people know and that leads us to them.
To answer your questions, I'm pretty over the jet lag. I haven't fallen asleep in any lessons or anything (aren't you proud!) I'm adjusting to a 24/7 female comp pretty well. We get along great--it probably helps that we have a million mutual friends and we're a lot alike. There are no Elders in Haarlem--we are the only two missionaries. I'm not totally sure what the ward is like since we had General Conference this week--but those I've met seem really nice. Funny story though--one of the ward members came up to me yesterday to tell me that I looked great and had lost a lot of weight since she had last seen me. I was super confused! Lost weight? When had I seen her? Then she noticed my name tag and said, Oh no! You aren't Zuster Miller! Are you new? You look like a skinnier Zuster Miller! (A different Zuster Miller than the one I know--for those of you who also know Kim Miller) Anyway, it was really funny.
Okay, I'm going to jet. But I love you all. If I have any words of wisdom, it is to laugh at the little things! They will make the rough things better--and COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!
Met liefde!
Zuster Chantelle Fowler