Monday, May 25, 2009

Een andere week als zendelinge

From e-mail dated 25 May, 2009

Well, it's been another great week as a missionary. I got mom and Colton's letters this week--thanks so much, it's so nice to hear from the family. I always look forward to reading your email on Monday's, but it's nice to get the surprise letters in the mail as well. I'll be looking forward to the package. Before I forget-- in the next package you send (not that it needs to be anytime soon) something I would enjoy is crystal light (like the packages you can dump into a bottle of water) and packets of ranch dressing mix (they don't sell that in the Netherlands--even the members order it special from America because they like it so much... it's really funny)...
So, what happened this week in the life of Zuster Fowler?
Monday night we taught Engelien--the Surinamer with whom we just set a baptismal date. We had taught her a bit about the plan of salvation the time before, and she had done some reading and thinking about it. She told us what she had read and she was so excited. She kept saying over and over "Nooit wist ik!"(I never knew that!) It's so amazing to see people recognize how the gospel is different and can bless their lives.
Tuesday we had District Meeting in Alkmaar and I received my stack of letters that I had missed picking up at Zone Conference. Thanks to Kristi, Marci, Kevin, and Liz. Later that day a couple of our appointments fell through, so we went to visit a member. It turns out that she was having a really rough time with the ward, and going there was really inspired. It is so important to have pure love for people in the ward! It's really hard for people to go when they feel like other people are talking about them behind their back. Each of us are striving for the same goal, and loving people without reservation is super important--I've always known that, but talking with this sister really reaffirmed that to me.
Wednesday was probably the roughest day of the mission so far--and Zuster Baxter says it was also the roughest day of her mission. We had door after door after door slammed in our faces and a couple of people right out yelled at us. No one would let us say more than 3 sentences in more than two hours of finding. I've never had that before. We were both pretty discouraged, but we learned a lot from it and were able to have a really good conversation about the atonement. That night the Zone Leaders called us because they felt like they should call--no other reason. It's through little things like that that I know that Heavenly Father is watching out for us and cares about us. The next morning, as I was reading through the Book of Mormon (our mission president has asked us to read through it again before July 1), I read Alma 14 that talks about the horrible things that Alma and Amulek went through as they were preaching the gospel. However, the very next chapter, Alma 15, talks about how they were lead by the spirit to another city where they were able to baptize flocks of people. It is the same with missionary work--Satan works really hard on you when he knows that really good things are coming. That day we had some amazing experiences, including looking up 3 old investigators who want to meet with us again and having an amazing conversation with a lady on her door (after the prayer she stood there in silence and then just gave us both a hug and told us to be sure to come back).
Our investigators have made some great progress this week, and I'm excited to see what this next week will bring. It's going to be super busy because we have to go to Brussels for another legality trip-- plus we are going to Den Haag to take Milene to see a baptism-- so we'll be like race horses trying to fit everything in (but that's a good thing--President Woodland told Zr. Baxter in her last interview that we'd better be prepared to become race horses because Haarlem was going to start getting extremely busy).
Oh, you asked about Zr. Baxter-- I don't have a lot of time left, but I'll let you know a little bit about what she is like--AMAZING! I learn so much from her every day. She is a very loving individual with a great capacity to follow the spirit. We have so many amazing experiences because she gets a prompting and follows it. She's a really good example.
Well, my time is pretty much up. I love you all!

Veel liefs,
Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Monday, May 18, 2009

Doop datum gesteld!

From e-mail dated 18 May, 2009

So, it's been quite the week. But I'll start off by answering your questions...
The Dutch is-- coming-- yesterday I was really frustrated by it all-- part of me feels like I haven't made much progress at all in the last 6 weeks-- but I know that I have because I can say more and understand more, I just wish I could understand it all. One of the members yesterday at a JoVo (Young Adult) dinner started talking about how impressed he was because I'd picked up on so much since coming--but I just don't see it. I know it's better than it was, but I feel like I could be such a better missionary if I could understand people and respond in a way that was meaningful to them instead of just understanding the ideas behind what they are saying and praying that what I say relates.
I haven't really used any French since that first day-- and honestly, I'm not sure I can remember much French anymore. It took me a few days to remember how to say goodbye in French last week-- speaking another language all of the time has made me forget what little French I knew.
Well, as for what has happened here this week-- this week has seemed SUPER long. I'm not sure why--maybe because it was kind of an in between point with transfers and all, plus I was sick for a couple of days--so everything just went really slowly, but it was really good.
We set a baptismal date with Engelien! She is getting baptized on June 20 and she's stoked for it. She is pretty amazing! She reads in the Book of Mormon on her breaks at work, she talks to so many people about this "geweldig kerk die [zij heeft] gevonden"(wonderful church that [she has] found), and she really thinks about and applies everything we teach her. She is wonderful!
Also this week, one of the recent converts got his mission call. His name is Sjaak. The night before we had been at dinner with Familie Scholten and we all guessed where he would go. I guessed South Africa--and that is where he is going! Johannesburg South Africa! So, I told him he owed me a prize. Also in the dinner conversation we talked about how all of these Muslim men are verliefd op mij (in love with me-- sort of--) and he thought it was really funny. So, yesterday in church he gave me my prize--an article from the Liahona about an LDS perspective on Muhammed and a postcard with a picture of Egypt with passages from the Q├║ran on the back. He thought he was really funny. Oh, good times. I'm excited for the kid though! He is quite the conversion story--I wish I had time to write all about it, but I'll have to do it another time or tell you about it in a year and a half.
Yesterday the Zuster who just got released (Zuster Miller--also from Tooele) and her family came to visit the ward here in Haarlem. Which means that I saw people from Tooele-- really weird-- especially since the daughter that was there is one of my good friends from High School--Liz Miller. Anyway, it was great to see her, although it was also weird. It really reminded me that a mission isn't very long, so I need to make the most of every minute that I'm here.
Friday night of this week we were going langs de deuren in the pouring rain when we saw a woman walking in the middle of the street. We went and started to talk to her. Turns out she is from Bulgaria and had met the missionaries there. She had taken lessons from them over 8 years ago, and she started to cry when she realized we were from the same church. She is leaving the city for 6 weeks, but we have her number and will call her when she gets back--she wants to meet with missionaries again! The miracles that Heavenly Father does for His children to be able to have the chance to hear the gospel--I mean, really, what are the odds that we would run into her on a rainy Friday evening in the Netherlands?!
Wednesday we were langs de deuren and felt like we should go down a specific street. We came across a young woman who had lost a lot of family members lately and wasn't sure if she could believe in God. We felt impressed to share a scripture with her and she said we could pray with her--we are meeting again with her next week. Amazing!
Okay, something to keep you all spiritually fed. I was studying patience this week because I have a hard time with patience--especially with myself--and I found something really amazing. Read Romans 5:3-5 and 8:24-25. It made me think about the connection between patience, experience and hope. As you have patience, then you are able to experience things that you wouldn't otherwise experience, which then gives you hope for things in the future, so then you have more patience, which then brings more experience, that leads to more hope-- it is a never ending cycle! It is one that I need to acknowledge more--I definitely have a lot to learn.
Okay, I have to get going. I wish I could write more--there are so many amazing experiences!
Well, I've got to run.

Veel liefs,
Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gelukkige Dag Na Moeders Dag

From e-mail dated 11 May, 2009.

Happy day after mother's day. It was good to talk to you all...
First things first--I'm staying in Haarlem!!! I'm super excited about that! And Zuster Baxter is staying as well, so we'll be companions for at least one more transfer. Yay!
...It's been a little rough--I had only received letters from the family the whole first transfer, which means that I only received 2 letters and a package via snail mail. But then, at Zone Conference there was a stack of letters that had been sent to the mission home. So, I got letters from Aunt Joan, Liz, and Kris--I was pretty stoked. Well, then that night we got a call from the Elders to say that there was another stack of letters that I missed-- apparently there's a whole bunch-- so sorry to all of you who sent letters that I haven't gotten yet-- hopefully I'll get them this week or next--I don't even have any idea who they are from.
Anyway, so things that happened this week-- We've had a lot of interesting experiences with people thinking we're Jehovahs Getuige this week (Jehovah's Witnesses), and then when they find out we aren't they get super relieved. We've been given treats on the door when people find out we are something other than Jehovahs Getuige-- but they still aren't interested in learning more about the gospel. I wonder why they are so relieved to find out we aren't Jehovahs Getuige--it sounds like so many people have had bad experiences with them here in Nederland.
Wednesday was Zone Conference--and we got to go to the temple! It was AMAZING! I've been really struggling not being able to go to the temple here--after going at least once a week for 4 years and then getting cut down to nothing, it's a little rough--so going to the temple was such a blessing. Everything was in Dutch, which was cool--and I could understand probably about 90% of it (it probably helps that I'm super familiar with what is said-- but still!)
Friday we went on exchanges--I went to Den Haag with Zr. Miller--the one that I know from high school. This is her last transfer, so she heads home on Wednesday. It was good to learn from her for a day. We actually ended up going on splits with some members that day--the first time I've ever gone on splits--and we did some langs de deuren. It was interesting because the member I was with is really shy, so even though she could understand everything that was said and I couldn't, I still had to respond to everything. It really made me focus and realize what I actually am able to do and what I can work on.
Things with our investigators are going well. Milene is fabulous! I absolutely LOVE her! She really wants to know what the commandments are so that she knows what she has to commit to when she gets baptized. She thinks that tithing is a really cool concept (we were a little nervous that she would struggle with it), but she is a little wary about the word of wisdom. She drinks wine with dinner every once in a while and loves fruit tea and she doesn't see why she should have to stop-- but she is in the process of praying about whether or not it is something Heavenly Father is asking of her. I know that once she gets that answer, she'll have no problem with it. Yesterday we asked her for her email address in case one of us was going to get transferred and she got really upset when it hit her that we aren't the permanent missionaries here--she said she feels like we have such a connection and she feels like it would be difficult to build that with anyone else. Her friend, Frank, the member through which she was introduced to the church, helped her to see that Heavenly Father sends people to cities for a reason. It's so great when investigators have a friend who is a member because then they can really ask all of their questions and they feel so much more comfortable. My testimony of member missionary work has intensified a hundred fold these last 6 weeks--really, the best way for someone to come closer to Christ through the gospel is by having a friend in the gospel--pray about who you could help come closer to Christ and introduce to the missionaries, it is amazing what a difference that makes!
Azelea is wonderful. Her husband found a job here in the Netherlands, so they won't be moving to Greece, which is great! She is praying right now about whether or not Joseph Smith is a prophet. What's interesting is that she KNOWS that the Book of Mormon is true, but just hasn't made the connection between the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith yet. It will come.
Engelien came to church yesterday and LOVED it! It was wonderful! The Relief Society president had come with us on joint teach earlier in the week, which was so great because then she had a friend when she walked into the church and everyone really worked to help her feel welcome. That is another that's so important--if someone enters the church as a stranger, they should leave as a friend. I think that's something I was always a little wary of--if I didn't know someone at church, I just assumed they were there with someone else or that everyone else would be introducing themselves and I didn't want to overwhelm the person--IT'S NOT TRUE!!! The people want to feel friendship from the members--always introduce yourself when you see someone you don't know.
Things in the mission are good. It is hard and stressful , but good.
Anyway, I'd better wrap up...

Ik houd van jullie allemaal!
Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Chonology is officially out the window

From letter dated 13 April, 2009
Note: Just when I was getting a handle on posting Chantelle's letters out of sequence with her e-mails, I get another surprise. Just yesterday we received this letter which she wrote a week before the letter we received and posted on Tuesday. So we'll just have to deal with the order of the postings being completely out of sync with the chronological order her correspondences. She refers to this letter in the blog entry dated April 14, 2009. By the way, we were able to call her today since it is Mother's day. She sounds great, and she is doing great. - GRF.

Hoi mijn familie!
Het is een Heel mooie dag hier in Haarlem! Ik en Zuster Baxter zitten bij een canal om onze briefen te schriven. (It's a beautiful day here in Haarlem! I and Sister Baxter are sitting by a canal to write our letters). Ik houd Haarlem! (I love Haarlem!) I've decided to write you a letter every week with the happenings so that I have time to read your emails & respond to your questions as well as read emails from the Mission President.
Anyway, today is tweede pass (second Easter), so pretty much everything is closed, so we'll be taking a short P-Day today & use two hours tomorrow to do our grocery shopping and email.
We just barely had a really exciting little miracle happen as we have been writing letters, so I'm going to start with that. Here's the background: Saturday we had a bit of a rough day finding. An old man yelled at us & not many people were interested in talking to us. We were feeling really humbled & decided to stop & eat the sandwiches we had packed for dinner. We prayed & asked Heavenly Father for His help to not let this get to us, then since there wasn't a place to sit, we started walking around the block while we ate. We turned the corner & ran into a middle aged Dutch man. We started talking to him about the gospel & he was interested enough to give us his number & take a pamphlet. Well, he just barely called us to say that he read the pamphlet & wants to meet with us to talk about what he read! He's really excited about it! Oh, the miracles Heavenly Father puts in your path!
Okay, so what has happened the rest of the week?
Tuesday was District Meeting, so we travelled to Alkmaar & had a great conversation with a young woman. She's from another town, so we referred her to the missionaries there. District Meeting meant that I got to get to know some of the other missionaries in the mission. Our district is super small - 2 Elders, us, and an echtpaar (married couple). I'm excited to build unity as a district. Then, that night, we went to a new member's apartment for dinner. Her name is Stella & she made us foo foo (probably the wrong spelling-- but sorry!), which is an African dish that you eat with your hands. The sauce was super spicy! My mouth fell off! Stella was laughing at us sissy la la American girls - it was a good time.
...Other than that, this week has been pretty great. We've met some phenomenal people & our progressing investigators are getting closer and closer to baptism every appointment.
Friday we had a special opportunity where all the District leaders in our Zone came to Haarlem for training - which is not normal because Haarlem is a Sister city, but the Zone leaders prayed about it & felt really strongly that they should do their training here. That means I got to see some of my favorite Elders from the MTC because their companions are District leaders. That was definitely a blessing for me. Then, the Elders did some contacting in the city & came across a woman who used to meet with the missionaries & she said she wants to start learning about the church again! We went and taught her yesterday! She's excited to learn about the gospel & it is a super cute family. The biggest problem is language barrier - she's from China, but speaks pretty good English & is learning Dutch. Her husband speaks very little English and almost no Dutch. And their daughter speaks Dutch & Chinese, but no English. Whoa, buddy! But, we're working to find a way we can teach this wonderful family as a family.
Friday, also, as we were going langs de deuren, we cam across an old lady. She told us that we shouldn't try to talk to her, but instead look for dapper young men because she's old & going to die sooner, but these handsome young men would be good for our church & then we could marry them. Het was een heel grappig gesprek! (It was a super funny conversation).
Yesterday was my first Sunday where we had regular church int the Netherlands - which means I had to get up to share my testimony. Heavenly Father really blessed me to be able to say all I wanted to say & without too may glaring mistakes. The members kept coming up to me to tell me I have the gift of tongues - Well, I definitely know that the power of God is the only way I am able to speak as much as I can. Plus, I think He changes it in their minds :) Things really do get better with the language day by day. I can understand so much more & say so much more than before. I know Heavenly Father is blessing me so that I can do His work. Oh, also, there were 3 or 4 American families there on Sunday & one of them asked for your # so they could call and tell you something - so you may get a phone call from a family I met here.
Things here are great! Don't get me wrong, it is hard, but wonderful. I am reminded of a talk I read that had a section called "The Atonement and the Missionary" - the reason missionary work is hard is that salvation was never meant to be easy. However, it is glorious. I know the gospel is true & that Heavenly Father strengthens us, with Him ANYTHING is possible.
I love you all! you are constantly in my prayers!

Met al mijn liefde,
Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Another out-of-sequence letter

From letter dated April 20, 2009
Note: Here are some excerpts from a letter that we just received that Chantelle wrote a couple of weeks ago. Since it takes so long for letters to arrive from Europe via the postal service, it is understandably posted out-of-sequence. Chantelle refers to this letter in the blog entry dated April 23, 2009 - GRF.

...Things here are going well. Serving a mission is AMAZING! It's so great to get to share something that has made my life so great & then to see how it affects the lives of others - to see their lives change - and all through the power of Christ. Wow!
One really neat experience was just last night. One of the women we've been teaching has been really sick & she's having a lot of other troubles right now as well. She's from Ethiopia, and she married a man from Greece. They have a beautiful 6 yr. old daughter. They came to the Netherlands, but her husband lost his job, so he went back to Greece & is looking for a job while she's here working to take care of their daughter. It's really rough. We stopped by last night to see how she was doing & she wasn't doing so great. We had the impression to talk to her about the priesthood & offered to call some of the JoVos (Young Adults) in the ward to come give her a blessing. She said she would really like that, so some of them came over - Sjaak & Jon - and gave her a blessing of healing & comfort. It was amazing. The spirit was super strong & the thing that was told to her over & over is that Heavenly Father is aware of her and loves her. That's exactly what she needed to hear. The power of the priesthood is AMAZING! ...It truly is the power to act in the name of God - which is something so mighty and yet so precious.
...I also didn't have time to write about a funny story. We were going langs de deuren, and were on a street with a lot of bell ups (so you ring & speak through an intercom or they buzz the door so you can come in). One of the rings let us in, so we climbed 6 flights of stairs & found ourselves talking to a Jehovah's Getuigen (Jehovah's Witness). We talked a bit about families & gave her a pamphlet. She said she'd read it, but didn't really want to talk to us about it (although she was really nice). We gave her the pamphlet & went down the 6 flights of stairs to ring another apartment. We were talking through the intercom when the door opened & she walked out & said - "since I took your pamphlet, will you take one of mine?" She stuffed a couple of pamphlets in our hands and said goodbye. It was quite funny - I've now officially had a pamphlet exchange with a JW. Well, I don't have a lot of time, so I'm going to jet.

I love you all!
Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Monday, May 4, 2009

Een beetje vreemd...

From e-mail dated 4 May, 2009.

Well, I'm glad to hear that things are going well at home. I got mom and Renee's letters. Thanks! I'll hopefully get a letter off to Renee today-- but we are running around taking pictures today... because next P-day will be spent making a legality trip to Hoofddorp.
... I'm glad to hear that BYU Rugby is keeping up it's stride. I'm not going to lie--I miss Rugby a lot! As for the package-- since it hasn't been sent yet, you may not want to send it until after you receive my email next week--there's a chance that I may get transferred since transfers are next week, and I'll know that by the time I email you.
The weather here is actually really nice--it has only REALLY rained once in my whole transfer--the other times there has been a bit of a drizzle, but nothing too grand. I actually haven't worn my rain coat at all--just used an umbrella. I'm sure that will change, but for now there just hasn't been a whole lot of rain to worry about. The weather is fabulous--a little chilly--but wonderful!
So, this week has been a little weird, as the title of my email says in Dutch (I now have problems spelling the word weird because its spelling is opposite from Dutch pronunciation rules). All of the members keep talking about the flu--apparently there were a couple of cases in Rotterdam, but I don't know much other than that-- then everyone that we meet talks about the ongeluk op koninginen dag (the accident that you mentioned in your email). We rode our bikes to a member's house in Hoofddorp (the ride there was BEAUTIFUL!) for dinner and when we got there she had the news on and she basically watched it the whole time while we ate dinner. Everyone is pretty flabbergasted about it all. And now a few more people each day are shutting their doors on us talking about the awful things happening in the world.
This week was also a little weird because I'm been hit on by 3 men this week-- one was from Turkey and in his 50s and we'd been teaching him for a couple of weeks (we are no longer teaching him-- after he realized I wasn't interested he also lost interest in the church), another was from Russia and we met him on the train--he started talking about how he was looking for a nice girl to marry and my companion said that she was sure that he'd find a nice Russian girl someday and he looked straight at me and started talking about how she doesn't have to be Russian, then the last was just a couple of days ago and he started asking me if I was married or had a boyfriend and then asked if he could come visit me in America when I went home-- oh boy! Where did all of this come from?! Nothing like this ever happened at home and I'm not exactly the most gorgeous girl in the world. It must be the spirit and then they just don't know what to do with it, so they think it is me or something-- I'm not sure-- but it's really frustrating.
Other than that, things this week have been good. Our investigator, Azelea, from Ethiopia, finally made it to church yesterday! It was fabulous! She is making so much progress right now. The other day she called the Book of Mormon fact! We are so excited to see her really feeling the spirit and coming to know for herself that the things she is learning are true. The way Heavenly Father works is AMAZING!!!
We've also seen some amazing progress with Milene. She is fabulous! Heavenly Father works with her so much and she is super sensitive to the spirit. Sometimes I forget that things happen with investigators outside of our appointments with them-- but with her, she has a lot of friends who are members, so she talks with them and asks questions, and then you can tell she thinks about everything a lot--she had told us a couple of weeks ago that she didn't think she could commit to coming to church every week, but then this week she told us that she's realized that there's a huge difference when she comes to church, so she's going to try to come as often as possible!
Okay, well, I have to get going-- but I came across a great scripture this week that I'd like to share with you. It is in Jeremiah 17:7-8 about hope. I love the analogy of how hope in the Lord can help you through all of the difficult times.

I love you all! I'll talk to you Sunday.
Zuster Chantelle Fowler