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

1 comment:

  1. HOLY MOLY! Christa Baxter (Chantelle's companion/trainer) is a really good friend of mine! I was reading HER blog this morning just after Chantelle's and she mentioned Chantelle as well. She is excited (and a little nervous) to be a trainer, but I'm sure they'll get along fabulously. Christa is a wonderful, committed, happy human being. Chantelle is in good hands. How fun!