Monday, June 29, 2009

I AMsterdam

From e-mail dated 29 June, 2009

So, Amsterdam is definitely different-- as is working with a new companion. Like I said last week, Zr. Miller is my new companion. She's pretty great...
We live in the Bijlmer--which like you said, is pretty far from central Amsterdam. But we only work in South East Amsterdam and a couple of other towns within the limits. There are 4 Elders in Amsterdam that handle the rest of it. The Elders are Elder Patrick, Elder Douglass (he was in the group older than me in the MTC), Elder Spurrier, and Elder Owens (a brand new greenie). The city is HUGE!!! Millions of people in the city limits. It's definitely different from Haarlem. We teach a lot of Africans here, which is good--but they definitely bail on their appointments a lot. I have never spent so much time just trying to figure out where our investigator is. I miss Haarlem-- but I am coming to love Amsterdam--especially the people in the ward. They seem to be super great. I already feel a bond with a recent convert from Thailand named Lucky. We ate dinner with her on Thursday, she came finding with us on Saturday, and she was at another dinner appointment yesterday. She is pretty funny.
We don't have a lot of progressing investigators right now... But-- we found 11 new investigators since I came on Wednesday--hopefully some of them will really move on to progressing soon. There are currently no baptismal dates in Amsterdam-- but hopefully that will change quickly.
This week is going to be super interesting--President Woodland is going home and we are getting a new mission president--President Brubaker.
My bike crash wasn't that bad--I promise. It could have been A LOT worse. I may be a little beat up, but I'm healing quickly, and it hasn't caused me to miss a beat in the work.
Thanks for the card with the pictures. I'll be looking forward to getting Mom's and Renee's letters. Tell the other kids they should at least say hello one time. It's weird to think that I've already been gone 5 months. It has gone by quickly, and yet so slow sometimes. I know at the end of my mission though I'll be looking back and wondering what happened with my time here. I need to make the best use of every day--do my best to know what Heavenly Father would have me do.
I know the gospel is true. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that He is aware of everything that we go through. This last week, as I've been trying to figure out how to handle situations, I've really realized how much he is there for me--how much he knows exactly what I'm going through--that He has felt it and will help me to be able to accomplish everything that I need to--He will guide me. I know that you are being watched over. I hope that everything is going well--I pray for you daily. Thanks for all of your support and your love. Tell everyone I love them.

Veel liefs,
Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Monday, June 22, 2009

I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go

From e-mail dated 22 June, 2009

So-- first things first-- I'm getting transferred. Zr. Baxter will be training again (there are two sisters coming in, so she doesn't know who yet--) and she is staying in Haarlem. So, I'm heading off to-- AMSTERDAM!!! I'm pretty stoked. It'll be a great experience. I'll be serving with Zr. Miller. She's pretty great. I'm a little nervous to move cities and to have to learn to teach with a new companion and everything-- But it will all go well...
This week in Haarlem has been crazy busy. Here are some highlights.
Monday we were walking through the park, talking to people, and we met a man who moved to the Netherlands from Kosovo many years ago. When he learned that we were from America he said (talking to me), "I knew you couldn't be Dutch--you look too Muslim! You're hair is too dark!" Well, now I know why I have such a problem with being hit on by men from that area of the world. Thanks for the dark hair, dad. Just kidding :) After that the man couldn't stop talking about how much he loves America because of everything that America has done for the people of Kosovo--he loves Bill Clinton and told us that he has pictures of him in his house because he is the one who lead the Americans to help his people. It was so different to hear someone who only had positive things to say about America and he was SUPER enthusiastic about everything American.
Tuesday we had a special Zone Conference with all of the Dutch missionaries because this is President Woodland's last Zone Conference. It was super rainy that morning, and the roads were super slick. I had a pretty big bike crash--but Heavenly Father was watching out for me because on a normally super busy road, there were no cars. I'm pretty beat up from my run in with the ground, but I'm healing well. Zone Conference was amazing though. We talked about using the Book of Mormon better in finding and it was GREAT! Ever since then, we've had some amazing experiences using the Book of Mormon in finding, and have given away more copies of the Book of Mormon this week than we usually do in two or three weeks. We have had to come home to get more copies. And the people who take it are genuinely interested and want to meet and learn more.
Wednesday we had dinner with Familie Scholten--they are basically my parents here in Haarlem (man, I'm going to miss them!)...
Okay, only a few more minutes-- but we had an AMAZING experience with Didi--the woman from Bulgaria. We were talking to her about her experience with the missionaries in Bulgaria, and then we pulled out a Book of Mormon in Bulgarian and asked her if she remembered this book--her face lit up and she asked where we had gotten it. She said she had lost hers in a move years ago. We told her that we wanted to give her the Book of Mormon, and she started to cry. She was so happy. The Book of Mormon has such an impact on people's lives! I loved being able to see that moment. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that it can change people's lives if they are open to the spirit as they read it. Read it daily--it will make such a difference.
Okay, gotta run-- time is up. I'll be writing next week from the big city of Amsterdam!

Veel liefs,
Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Monday, June 15, 2009

Echt druk

From e-mail dated 15 June, 2009.

Well, this week has been super busy in Haarlem. The life of a missionary is wonderful!
...So, this week we have taught Engelien some pretty rough commandments for her--the Word of Wisdom and Chastity. She has been smoking since she was 22. However, she has had a spiritual confirmation that this comes from God, so she is doing her best to quit. She received a priesthood blessing yesterday, and although she doesn't quite understand the power of the priesthood yet, she really felt the spirit... If you could all pray for her to be able to live both of these commandments, it would make a huge difference.
Tuesday was a pretty good day of missionary work--nothing too out of the ordinary.
Wednesday we had interviews with President Woodland in Den Haag. We will be getting a new mission president next month, so this was our last interview with him. I've really enjoyed getting to know him and he has so much great spiritual insight. He's really helped me as I've entered the mission field and have been working to figure out how Heavenly Father wants me to serve his children. Oh, as I talked to him I asked him if you could send me some of my piano music so that I could keep up and play on P-days and such. He said that would be fine. Would you please send me my Jon Schmidt Hymns? Also, I have another couple of books with hymn or children hymn arrangements and a folder with sheet music for If You Could High to Kolob. They are all on the bottom shelf of my book shelf in my room. You don't have to send them all, because that would probably be too expensive--but if you could pick out a couple and send them, that would be great. Thanks!
Thursday we visited a woman that we had tracted into last week. Her name is Emmy. We had an amazing experience there. Last week we talked to her about her life--she is a widow and has 3 kids and 9 grandchildren and she is always going out of her way to help others. She travels the world to help others as often as she can. However, she has recently stopped traveling because one of her granddaughters has been having major problems lately--she will call up her grandmother and tell her that she wants to kill her mom, or she wants to do something else that is not good. So then Emmy will have the granddaughter come over and they will sit down and meditate and pray together until the girl has calmed down enough to go back. Basically she's having some major mental problems and is making all sorts of really bad decisions right now. Anyway, before we left, we prayed with her and prayed for her granddaughter. When we came back this week, one of the first things Emmy told us when we walked in the door is that almost as soon as we left last week, her granddaughter called. Her granddaughter sounded peaceful and said, "Grandma, I feel calm. I feel peace. I haven't felt this in a long time." She also talked about how she had felt like her grandfather (who passed away almost 20 years ago) told her that she needed to start making better decisions with her life. Emmy then told us that she knows it is because of the prayer we offered on behalf of her granddaughter. Wow! We are meeting with her again this week.
Friday we had exchanges. Zr. Wieland came to Haarlem to spend the day with me and Zr. Baxter went to Amsterdam to spend the day with Zr. Stapleton (my old MTC companion). Zr. Wieland and I were actually in the same ward at BYU for two years, so it was fun to be together and get to work together. We had some great experiences, including running into a woman while we were going langs de deuren. She was packing things in her car to go on vacation and she yelled across the street to us that the people whose door we were knocking on wouldn't come to the door. Then she proceeded to tell us that everyone else on the street either wasn't home or wouldn't come to the door because they didn't want to bother telling us no. Then she said, "However, I don't have a problem saying no." We ended up talking to her for a bit, and actually got into a really good conversation about prayer. In the end, we asked her if we could pray for her, and she invited us inside. She then invited us to come back after she gets back from vacation. Oh, Heavenly Father has a sense of humor!
Saturday the Alkmaar Elders came to Haarlem and we met up with them by the station. We got some sidewalk chalk and drew out the plan of salvation and talked with people who were walking by. It was really interesting to see who would stop to talk to us. There were a lot of almost bike wrecks because people were so curious about what we were doing that they would slow down on their bikes and the person behind them was also not paying attention to the road, so they'd almost crash. It was cool to do some creative finding. We also ran into Didi--the contact from more than a month ago who said she would be gone for 6 weeks who had met with the Elders when she lived in Bolivia (I'm pretty sure I wrote about her)--and she was SO excited to see us! We have an appointment with her for Thursday--I'm pretty stoked.
I also gave a talk yesterday in church. It's pretty crazy that I gave a talk in Dutch. It wasn't perfect by any means, but people could mostly understand what I said-- I hope-- I talked about the pre-mortal existence and that Heavenly Father knows us all personally because he knew us before we were born--He will always be with you and always be able to help you because he knows your deepest dreams.
Okay, well, my time is almost up. This week we have Zone Conference and then next week is transfers. I'll let you know if I'll be transferred or not when I email next week. I have a feeling I will be, but I'm not sure.
I love you all, and I miss you. Thanks for the wedding announcements, talk, and letter. Tell the kids hi.
I know the gospel is true. The way Heavenly Father works is amazing!

Veel liefs,
Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Friday, June 12, 2009


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Alles gaat goed‏

From e-mail dated 8 June, 2009

Wow, it sounds like it's been a good time in Utah. Things here have been going pretty well as well...
Both of our baptismal dates are getting pushed back a little bit. They both still want to get baptized, but Engelien hasn't had all of the lessons yet and she is still working on quitting smoking--she just won't be quite ready in a week and a half-- so we aren't sure when for her yet--we're going to pray with her about it tonight and help her pick out a date she feels more comfortable with. Milene just wants some more time to be comfortable with all of the changes she is going to have to make, so she's thinking she wants to get baptized sometime in July. Pray for both of them--Satan works really hard on people when they've made a decision like this that would bring them closer to Christ.
We had an AMAZING experience with prayer this week. We've been asking members of the ward to pray for Azelea because she has been having a really hard time getting work off on Sundays, and thus hasn't been able to come to church. She knows that the Book of Mormon is true and that the church was restored through Joseph Smith (her scriptures look like she is a seminary teacher or something!), but not being able to come to church has really been holding her back in making progress toward baptism. Anyway, so the ward members have been praying that she will be able to come to church. At one of our appointments this week she told us that she went in to request Sunday off and her boss told her the schedule was already out--she went to look and she already had Sunday off! Without even requesting it! Prayer does wonders! She is super excited to come to church--and her daughter, Catharina, is just as excited (if not more). Plus, I'll be giving a talk that Sunday-- so Azelea is excited to hear me speak Dutch. Oh, boy-- that's going to be interesting--
Oh, funny story with Catharina (Azelea's daughter)(by the way-- I may have called her Belina or Catharine in other letters-- they are all the same person, she just has a lot of nicknames)--Sjaak and Zr. Baxter were teaching Azelea about the plan of salvation so the Sjaak can get some practice before going on his mission, and Catharina was drawing a picture of me. She drew a picture of me in a beautiful ball gown, but it didn't have any sleeves! I pointed it out to her and she said, "Oh yeah! Sleeves are important! Your body is a temple!" And then we had a little talk about modesty. It was really quite the experience. Gotta love 6 year old little girls!
Okay, well, I don't have a whole ton of time left, but I wanted to tell you about a verijkingsavond (Relief Society activity thingy) that the ward had this week. Broeder and Zuster Reijnders used to be temple president and matron and they are superstar members of the ward. They led a discussion on the temple, and it was AMAZING! The temple is such a special place where eternal covenants are made. I wish I had time to write all of the new neat things I learned, but I've only got about two minutes left. I just want to share my testimony of the importance of temple work. Searching out ancestors and going to the temple are an important part of missionary work. There are people being taught in the spirit world right now! And there are people accepting the gospel! They just need someone here to do their work. Be sure to take time to go to the temple--it will really bless you in more ways than you will ever be able to imagine.
Okay, I have to go.
Love you all!

Veel liefs,
Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

No, I don't believe in God... but don't you dare touch my Tweede Pinkster!

From e-mail dated 2 June, 2009

So, the email comes a day late this week because yesterday was Tweede Pinkster--basically the day after Pentacost. Which meant that everything was closed. It amazes me that so many people in Holland don't believe in God but Christian holidays get at least two days vacation and they are pretty insistant on telling you that it's a holiday so they don't want to talk to you. It's pretty crazy for a missionary. Plus, my bike got a flat on Saturday night, so that meant that we had to do everything bikeless until this afternoon when we could finally get it fixed (ouch, a lekker band [flat tire] cost a lot to fix-- guess I'll be buying less souvenirs than I thought due to an outrageous bike price and then spending money to try to fix it)--it's been an interesting last few days.
Thanks for the package. It was great. However, is there a way to send things cheaper?! That was SO expensive! If packages really cost that much to send, then don't worry about sending anything. It's not worth that. I actually had to sign for this package, so they wouldn't leave it with a neighbor. The post man left a note in the mailbox saying that I'd have to come to the post office to pick it up. We were trying to figure out when that could happen (since everything was going to be closed on P-day) and then we ran into the post man! I saw a package on his dolly and basically accosted him saying, "Pardon, maar is dat pakket voor mij?" (Excuse me, is that package for me?) He looked at my name badge and said, "Ik denk het wel" (I think so). Heavenly Father even lets little miracles happen so you can get your packages--gotta love how he works. I love the peanut butter. And the nylons are great--funny story though-- some of them aren't nylons :) But that's okay, they are things that I love to use back home, so I'll just save them until I get home (or until winter here-- it's just too warm and humid right now to wear anything you don't have to)...
You mentioned the sunset here--it really is pretty crazy to go to sleep and have it still pretty light outside and wake up to a really bright morning. The Winter is going to be an interesting time.
So, what has happened this week?
Tuesday was a pretty rainy day. I used my raincoat for the first time. I looked like Cookie Monster. It was pretty great. Zuster Baxter and I walked around the whole day singing "C is for cookie." Ah, good times.
We've seen some amazing finding miracles this week. Saturday we were supposed to go to Den Haag for a baptism, but Milene got sick and couldn't go, so we ended up staying in Haarlem and doing some finding. On the way back to the apartment, my bike got a flat tire-- so we decided that we'd just have to do the finding in the neighborhood. There's a great little park nearby our apartment, so we started walking in that direction. We saw a young woman standing by her bike next to an apartment building, and both of us started walking that way (as we talked later, both of us had the impression that we needed to talk to her). As we talked to her, she asked us question after question--she'd been trying to find answers to tons of questions about God and the bible and life after death. She is fascinated by the Book of Mormon and is super excited to meet with us again this week. I'm excited to see how knowledge of the restored gospel can change her life.
Then Sunday we were going langs de deuren and met a 19 year old boy who got super excited about the Book of Mormon. Sadly, he leaves this week for a year long world tour--but he told us that he was going to put the Book of Mormon in his luggage and read it on the go. Then he gave us his grandma's address and told us that we absolutely have to go visit her because she would love to hear about what we had to share.
Then today, on the way to District Meeting in Alkmaar, we talked with a man from Aruba who looked at our name badges and said, "In English, is the name of your church 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?'" He had seen missionaries in Aruba, but had never talked to them--but he was impressed with what he had seen in the missionaries there. He was also headed out of the city, but told us he'd call when he gets back (the rough thing about finding in the summer-- everyone is going on vacation).
Well, things with our investigators are going well. Since I spent so much time writing about finding, I don't have any time left to update you on our investigators-- but not a whole lot is different from last week. I'll update you next week.
Know that I love you all.
Gotta run!

Veel liefs,
Zuster Chantelle Fowler