Monday, August 31, 2009


From e-mail dated 31 August, 2009.

Wow. It sounds like a lot is going on in the Fowler family. I hope that everything goes well...
Congratulations to Matt for getting into show choir. Break a leg with auditions for the play! Let me know how it goes. Some of you kids are bums who still haven't written me--I now have less than a year, so you'd better get a move on it. In fact--I've pretty much stopped getting letters all together. Part of me is okay with it because then I don't stress about being so behind on writing letters on p-day when there is so much else to do-- but a part of me really wants letters :) (that's the selfish part of me--sometimes a letter just makes a huge difference after a long day).
I will probably get the package at Zone Conference next week--it is on September 11 with Elder Kopishke--the area president (He is doing a mission tour next week). As for a birthday package-- I don't really know-- some pictures of the family? That would be good. A letter from everyone would also be nice...
So, what happened on this rough day? Melvin broke up with us. We went to our appointment and his begeleidster was there (kind of like a social worker-- in a way--) and she told us that he doesn't want to meet with us anymore. He was there-- but she was the one that did most of the talking. She told us that it was too stressful on him and that he doesn't want any more contact with the church. It was really sad. I think he's really confused and she's really concerned for him because he has been making so many changes in his life, and she voiced her concern, and then he began to doubt and then decided that this wasn't for him. It really surprised us so much because he had made so many changes in his life and there was a new light that had entered his eyes and he had found happiness that he had never had before-- and now it's just all gone-- really sad. He did say he wanted to keep the Book of Mormon though because he had received answers to his prayers through it. I don't really understand what the deal is-- but we're still praying for him. If ya'll could pray really hard for him this week, it would be appreciated.
However, things with Marijke are going really well. She is loving everything she is learning and things are super.
I also got to go back to Haarlem on exchanges. I worked with Zr. Robbins. It was WONDERFUL! I felt like I was at home again. I miss Haarlem a lot. We had an appointment with Azelea, which was AMAZING! I got to meet her mother, who was here to visit from Ethiopia. She couldn't stop talking about how grateful she was that Zr. Baxter and I had taught her during a really rough time in her life. I love Azelea and Belina so much! I also got to see a number of other people that I dearly love in Haarlem. I really hope that I'll get to finish off my mission there-- not likely-- but the Lord is the planner, right?
Okay, so a miracle--while I was in Haarlem, we were going finding. Zr. Robbins and I felt good about the Louis Pasteur straat, and when we got there, I felt like we needed to go to a specific building. The first bell-up we rang was a woman who, after I introduced us, said, "My darlings! I've been meaning to call you! I've been reading the book and I want to talk!" She didn't have any time to talk then because she was running off to work, but we got her phone number and they are going to set up an appointment. It was amazing. We have absolutely no idea who she is-- but apparently she received a Book of Mormon from sisters a while ago and likes it :)
Now, for the funniness of the week-- Zr. Miller and I were getting hair cuts. We were planning to get different hair cuts so that we would look different. I was going to go pretty short, and she was just going to get a trim-- well-- at the end of getting my hair cut, the girl said, "Wait a minute! Why is your hair still long?!" She had messed up-- and now we both have exactly the same hair cut. Now we look even more like twins than before. It's pretty funny. I'll have to send a picture.
Anyway, I've got to get going. But I love you all. I've been studying the life of Jesus Christ lately, and my testimony has grown immensely. I know that He is our Savior. I know He loves us. He knows what we go through and He will be there to comfort us. One of my favorite scriptures ever is John 14:18.

Okay, gotta go!
Love you!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Twee nieuwe doop datums!

From e-mail dated August 24, 2009.

What a week!...
How are the kids enjoying their first days of school? Crazy that BYU is starting up again, too-- crazy that I'm not there-- maar goed :)
Yes, I did see Elder and Sister Pankratz at the mission conference. They are doing well. They are actually working some of the time in the mission office, so whenever I get something from the mission office there is usually a little note from them on it--it's sweet.
Today for p-day we are headed to a castle! It should be a good time. But because of that, I may not get a letter off to Michelle this week--I'll do my best, but I may have to double up and write her and Chris next week.
So, this week has been full of ups and downs and absolute craziness in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is definitely full of everything--good and bad--and we've seen a lot of both this week. So, I'll tell you about the good things we've seen :)
Last week on Sunday we were going to look up a referral we had received. We were going to park our bikes on the sidewalk when a woman who was taking a smoke break in her achtertuin (sort of like a back yard in the Netherlands-- but not really--) told us that we shouldn't park our bikes there because they'd most likely get stolen. We started talking to her, and the conversation came around to the gospel. She wasn't sure what she believed because she felt like there was a God, but she'd seen so many bad things happen in her life (her life really was pretty awful from the stories she has told us). We testified to her about Christ and about how He could help her. At the end of our 45 minute conversation we had an appointment with her at the church for Wednesday. On Wednesday she met us at the church and we taught her about the restored gospel. We especially testified of how Christ could help her release her pain from her life. To make a long story short, she accepted a commitment to be baptized on September 26 (which is also her birthday). We met with her again on Friday and she had read all of 1 Nephi and loved it--she told us that she has a feeling that her life is going to change for the better. She came to church yesterday and absolutely loved it! It is so great! So, keep Marijke in your prayers :)
Another wonderful thing this week: MELVIN SET A BAPTISMAL DATE!!! He is also getting baptized on September 26. He is doing so much better from last week and is really excited about the direction the gospel is taking him. He keeps telling us about how he'll pray about something and then as he is reading in the Book of Mormon, he gets an answer. It's so great to see the changes that have happened in his life since we found him about a month and a half ago. He told me yesterday that he feels happier than ever before in his life. I love the happiness that comes through the gospel! Please also keep him in your prayers.
Other exciting news:
Interviews with President Brubaker are tomorrow--I'm pretty stoked. I love getting to talk with the President and getting his inspired counsel about my role as a missionary.We get 2 exchanges this transfer--the first one is on Thursday--and I get to go to-- HAARLEM!!! I'm SO stoked to go back to Haarlem, even for a day. I love it there SO much! I'll be working for the day with Zuster Robbins--she and I were in the same ward last spring and summer terms at BYU when I lived in the Regency. I'm so excited because we have an appointment with Azelea, and I hope that we will be able to commit her to baptism.
The second exchange is next week, and Zuster Erickson will be coming to spend the day with me in Amsterdam.
Oh, another awesome experience of the week happened on a pont (a boat that takes us from one side of the IJ--a river--to the other side, so that we can get to North Amsterdam). I was standing there with my bike and started talking to the woman next to me. The ride is only a couple of minutes, but I've really been working on making the most of every minute and I really felt like I should talk to her. She told me that she is from Poland and she was going back to Poland this week to see her brother who is dying from cancer. She told me that she thinks this will be the last time she will see him. I testified to her of how Christ can give her peace and then asked if I could give her a card with a picture of Christ. She took one look at the card and started to cry. I know that I was supposed to talk with her. She doesn't live in our area, but after she gets back from her trip to Poland, I'm hoping the Elders will be able to make contact with her.
The gospel is wonderful. I love it so much! It's so great to share what I love with the people here. Yes, it's hard--but it is SO worth it. That's what I keep telling Melvin when he mentions how hard it can be sometimes--that it's the moite ward (worth it).

I've gotta jet. I love you!
Zuster Fowler

Monday, August 17, 2009

De zomer komt ook hier tot een eind

From e-mail dated August 17, 2009.

It sounds like things have been going well in Utah. Keeping yourselves busy as usual. Today has been a bit of a rough day-- we went outside this morning to find that I had a flat tire-- and things have just kind of gone from there-- that's why we're emailing so late today--we've cancelled a lot of our other p-day plans and are just hoping to get everything in that we HAVE to do. As we were trying to find an open bike shop today so that we could buy an inner tube for my bike (a lot of places in the Netherlands are closed on Monday) I just got to thinking how if I were home and there was a problem with my car or whatever the first person I would call is dad. Thanks for always being there for me mom and dad. You really are the best!
As for the talk in church last week--since Amsterdam is such a mixed culture ward, they actually have translation that is done by the missionaries--so they knew what I was saying thanks to Elder Spurrier. And we've heard a lot about the conference in Amsterdam--a lot of the members went to help translate.
Elder Nelson actually did a lot of things while he was here in the Netherlands--he spoke at the Family Conference, he held a fireside for the members, and he actually also came and spoke to us missionaries. The whole mission (French and Dutch) came together on Thursday for a special mission conference with Elder Nelson. This is the first time on my mission (and probably the last) that the whole mission has been together. It was a great experience. We heard from Elder Nelson and his wife, as well as the Seventies who are over our area. It was wonderful. We learned a lot about working with the members, letting our light as missionaries shine, and the love of God for us all. Wow. But, one of the most inspiring parts for me was right at the beginning--every one of the missionaries got to come up and shake their hands. It made me think of 3 Nephi 11 when Christ invites all of the Nephites to come and touch his hands and side. The spirit by our mission conference was strong. I know that Elder Nelson is called of God to help guide the church today--I know that he holds the power to act in God's name--and he used that power to bestow on us an apostolic blessing, which was also really special. I don't have my notes with me, but he blessed us that our families would be blessed as we are serving with all our hearts and that we would be prepared to share the gospel throughout our lives. The gospel really is so important--I can't stress that enough! God loves us so much, and the purpose of this life is to return to Him--the way to do that is to choose Christ--and we choose Christ by living the gospel.
You mentioned that the kids are going back to school. Summer is also coming to an end here. The kids started school in Amsterdam today--it's fun to ride past the playgrounds and hear noise again. The tourists are also starting to disappear--it's definitely easier to ride through the centrum without so many tourists standing confusedly in the middle of the bike paths and not moving, even when you use your bell to warn them that you are coming.
I've been able to make good use of my piano skills here in Amsterdam. I end up playing the piano every week for Relief Society (that was the same in Haarlem), but also Zr. Miller and I switch off playing the organ in Sacrament meeting. Good times. However, even better, a couple of people have asked for piano lessons--and these people are not members! So, we do piano lessons as our service for the week and then after a half an hour piano lesson we do a half an hour gospel lesson--they are reading from the Book of Mormon and coming to church--we've actually gotten two new investigators through giving piano lessons. I'm glad that I can use one of my favorite talents to build up my Heavenly Father's kingdom.
I don't have a whole ton of time left, but I also want to update you on Melvin. Things with him are going well. We have been teaching him about the commandments, and Friday night he called us freaking out--he told us that he just wants to be good and follow God, but he didn't think he had enough faith. We gave him some scriptures to read and made an appointment to come by the next afternoon. We prayed for him and had everyone we talked to praying for him. When we came by on Saturday, he was completely calm--he told us that he knew that he could live the commandment and the God would give him the strength he needs. He is now praying about a baptismal date!...

I've gotta go. I love you!

Zuster Chantelle Fowler

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sheri Dew in Amsterdam?

From e-mail received August 10, 2009

Things are going better this week. I did a lot of praying and realized I needed to humble myself... Things are getting better. I hate how prideful I can be sometimes--it really is the universal sin, and one that keeps coming back to haunt me! I get over one form of pride only to find that I have another.
Yes, the picture was of me eating herring. They usually give a lot of onions with it. It actually wasn't that bad. Definitely not my favorite food of all time--but I didn't throw up, so that's a good sign...
So, news for this week-- Melvin came to church yesterday! It was GREAT! He really liked it. He has been telling us he'd come to church for weeks--then this week we had given him a pamphlet and there was ONE SENTENCE in there that talked about how attending church is a commandment--the next time we met with him he told us that he didn't realize church was so important and that he would come from here on out. He's really progressing. He still doesn't see why he needs to be baptized (he was baptized when he was 12 and doesn't understand that the authority is important)--so pray for him that he will understand that.
Someone else also came to church yesterday-- Sheri Dew. And Elder Russel M. Nelson's wife. And guess who had to give a talk? Yup. Me. I walked into Sacrament Meeting with Melvin and was sitting in the audience with him when I realized who was sitting on the stand. Oh dear! It's bad enough giving a talk--let alone a talk in a language that you don't know perfectly--and then just add in that two important figures in the church are there. Tjonge Jonge! Well, I spoke on Faith in Christ as the first and most important principle of the gospel. One of my favorite scriptures that I rediscovered this week as I was studying for my talk is Moroni 7:33 that talks about receiving power through faith in Christ (actually-- I'm not positive what it says in English-- but that would be the literal translation from the words in Dutch). I definitely know that I have received strength and power from my faith in Christ to do all that is asked of me--including giving that talk!
A couple of other people were there in church as well:
One of my best friend's (Marci Murray) home teachers--she had told him to stay on the look out for me (and it's easy to find someone when they give a talk in the ward you attend) as well as a girl who had served her mission with two of my friends from high school (NaDene Lemmon and Chase Hochstrasser). Good times.
This week we've had an English fast--so from Wednesday of last week until the upcoming Wednesday the only time we are allowed to speak English is when we are talking with people who do not speak Dutch. We even have to do all of our scripture reading in Dutch. It's been a crazy experience, but really good. Having planning sessions and all of our studies in Dutch is interesting, but I've definitely learned a lot.
We've also found a lot of positive people this week--so hopefully they will become investigators soon. We are teaching a lot of wonderful people--pray that they will make more progress.
Well, I'm going to try to add a couple of pictures. If I have time, I'll tack on some more writing. I love you all!
The pictures are of us in traditional Dutch costume, and then last p-day we went to the I AMsterdam monument and had a sports p-day (that's why we aren't in missionary attire). Enjoy.

Zuster Fowler

Monday, August 3, 2009

Staying in Amsterdam

From e-mail dated 3 August, 2009

Well, transfers are this week--and both Zr. Miller and I are staying in Amsterdam...
As far as when I will be coming home from my mission, I'm not positive about when that would be-- but most sisters only stay 11 transfers--and I feel like I need to come home in July rather than August-- but when it gets closer to when that decision will be made, I'll talk with President about it.
So, what has happened in Amsterdam this week?
Well, Monday we went to Volendam--a tourist town--where we took pictures with our District in traditional Dutch costume. We have an "official" picture, but if I have time I'll send some of the random ones attached to this email.
Tuesday we had a lesson with Frank--the man who was supposed to get baptized this week-- well-- he no longer wants to get baptized. We had had a lesson with him on Saturday and afterwards he was calling all of his friends to invite them to come to his baptism, but everyone was telling him that they wouldn't come. So, then he began to ask people why they wouldn't come and what they knew about the church. Only one person had ever even heard of the church before--he apparently used to be a member and is now a pastor for another church. He told Frank that we worship someone besides Jesus Christ and that after he is baptized he will be taught different things than what he has already learned--he also told him that there can't be any other scriptures than the Bible and told Frank that he shouldn't be baptized. Frank is really really confused and he has said that we can still come over and talk about Christ, but that he doesn't want to be baptized and doesn't want to read the Book of Mormon anymore. We encouraged him to read the Book of Mormon again and pray about it again because God is the only one who can really tell him what comes from God. So, as for now, we are not meeting with him regularly anymore, but we will stop by in a couple of weeks or so.
Wednesday we had a Zone Conference in Utrecht, and it was really great. We talked about the Atonement and how that is our main message. The spirit was amazing! That night we had a lesson with our investigator, Melvin, about the atonement. It was wonderful! The spirit is so strong when you talk about Christ and what He has done. It really was phenomenal.
Friday we had a good time doing some finding on the Jennerstraat. It really made me laugh--oh good memories from my friend Jenner Black. We had some really interesting conversations, and I couldn't help but try and compare them to the personality of Jenner, since we were finding on "his street."
I want to close up with testimony of the Atonement. I know that Christ lives. He loves us. He is my Savior, and your Savior. It is through Christ that it is possible that we could come to earth, that we could experience all we are experiencing, and that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father. One scripture we use a lot when teaching about the Atonement is Alma 7:11-13. I remember one night my freshman year of college I was really really sick. I was curled up on the couch in our kitchen and I was studying from the Book of Mormon. I came across that verse, and it spoke to me in a way it never had before when it says that Christ has taken our pains and our sicknesses upon Him. I had such an overwhelming confirmation of the spirit then that He knew what I was feeling as I sat curled up on the couch, feeling like my body was going to die. I know that He did it all for me--and I know that He will help me as I am working my hardest on my mission.

I love you all and I pray for you daily.

Zuster Chantelle Fowler