Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy New Year!

From e-mail dated December 28, 2009.

It was great to talk to you all on Christmas. I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas. Christmas here was fun--TONS of food and some great member appointments. One of my favorites was with a 95 year old woman--Zr. Gunster--we got to make her dinner and then spend the evening of Second Christmas with her (just like for Easter and Ascension Day, they have second Christmas...).
I forgot to tell you! Last week at the Christmas concert in Den Haag, I met Catharina de Groot--the girl that found me on facebook when I first got my mission call. It was awesome to finally meet her! We were going to call her to see if she could come on joint teach with us, but Zr. Fritz and I were both sick this last week and so we had a couple of days without any work and then the rest of the time was Christmas appointments-- if you get a chance to let her know I'm sorry we didn't call, I would really appreciate it.
So, this week has been insane in a lot of ways. 1—Zr. Fritz and I were both sick this week at different times-- so that was rough.
2—With Christmas, a lot of our investigators were pretty busy and would cancel appointments at the last minute—that was pretty frustrating, but it gave us a good chance to have lessons with the people we had arranged to come on joint teach...
But, for a Christmas miracle—we’ve been trying to get a hold of an inactive member ever since I came to Amsterdam 6 months ago. We tried a couple of times to visit her this week because the ward had a Christmas package for her and her family. Well, we were never able to get a hold of her, so we ended up leaving the package with the neighbors. Then, miraculously, she came to church on Sunday with all of her kids! And she asked us to come visit them this week! It was wonderful.
Our investigators who have all been progressing are currently on vacation—but gratefully they’ll be coming back this week (like Kim--man, I miss that girl!). So many people have been on vacation-- I can't wait for them to get back--Claire, Kim, Joyce-- (yes, I'm making special mention of them because they read my blog-- but I love them a lot, too!)--I'm looking forward to seeing them again.
So, a funny adventure--are you ready for this? Riding a bike in the snow. Have you ever tried it? I doubt it. It's quite the time. Most of the week we have taken public transportation, but Christmas Eve we decided to bike because we had a lot to do and public transportation is a little of on holidays-- well-- it was an adventure and a half. Gratefully we didn't have any accidents on Christmas Eve (however, last night on the way home I hit a patch of black ice and took a dive--but no real injuries from that one--just a little bruised).
Christmas Eve in Amsterdam ROCKED! We had a musical service at the church and more than half of the people in attendance were non-members. It was AMAZING! I hope that they got a good impression and that they really felt the spirit. I played the organ (as usual-- I'm not sure if I've told you that I play the organ for the ward-- I'm not sure what they'll do when I get transferred) and the piano for all of the musical numbers. Zr. Fritz played violin while Annika (an AWESOME member) played the recorder and I played the piano for What Child is This. It was great!
You asked about my foot-- well-- here's the deal--I've talked to the mission doctor (who is in Germany) and he said that I just needed to take good care of it and that it wasn't worth going to a doctor here for an x-ray or anything because they wouldn't be able to do much about it. I talked to him and gave him updates weekly for a month. I didn't use crutches or anything, but we took breaks every day to ice it and I took really good care of it. Well, it's been 4 months-- and it still hurts if I walk a lot or if I catch my foot on something. We went to Den Haag today for P-day and as we were playing volleyball, it would hurt when I served because when I serve I drag my foot across the floor. I'm planning on talking to Sister Brubaker about it at interviews on Wednesday. I'm not sure if they can do anything about it anymore-- but I'm going to see.
Things with our other investigators are pretty much the same... Moses didn't make it to church--I don't know what's going on there-- he cancelled our appointment this week because of Christmas--we've really got to start meeting with him multiple times a week if he's serious about this--and I really hope he is.
As for a package--I think I would really just like a letter from the kids.
Really. Well, I've gotta get running. But for a short spiritual thought, I've been thinking a lot about my role as a missionary and how this is preparing me for a lifetime of missionary work. Please never forget to share what you have--just like when you have a favorite restaurant, you tell everyone about it because you love it so much--remember that the gospel is even better--share it like your favorite restaurant--WITH EVERYONE!

I love you so much!
Zuster Fowler

Monday, December 21, 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

From e-mail dated December 21, 2009

Tjonge Jonge! The snow here has been falling like crazy. It makes me feel a little better about missing Christmas at home, because at least we have a bit of snow now. Apparently they don't really get snow this early in the year (if at all) in the Netherlands--so the public transportation is taking a hit. But it's been fun. The whole neighborhood around the church yesterday was basically a huge snowball fight--we were walking down the street and got in snowball fights with random people on the street. It was a good time.
The concerts this week were much better attended. However, the outdoor singing was a lot colder and a lot less productive--I'm not sure if the culture is just so different between the Netherlands and Belgium, or if it was just so cold that no one would stop...
So, Kim is in Utah. I miss her like crazy! (And I'm not just saying this because she found my blog and is probably reading this--) I'm definitely looking forward to her coming back in a week and a half. Daisy (Marijke's granddaughter), is doing well. We had a lesson with her this week and talked again about baptism. I'm pretty sure it will come--she just says she wants to learn more first--but she knows it's all true. Kim is really good for her--she talked with her that night at a ward dinner and I was almost expecting Daisy to tell Kim she was going to get baptized on the same day or something.
We set a baptismal date with a new investigator named Moses this week. But he didn't come to church yesterday-- so I'm hoping he'll pull through. His date isn't until February-- but when a baptismal date doesn't come to church, you get worried that they aren't really serious about it.
Yesterday, we decided to take the tram for finding because it was so cold and nobody was outside. Now, it doesn’t really yield lessons to do consecrated hours in public transportation because it’s really difficult to pray with people in a tram or metro, but we felt good about a specific tram when we prayed about it. As we were there, the tram didn’t come and didn’t come—but we were able to talk with a woman at the stop for a long time—and when the tram finally did come, the conversation continued. It was a really positive experience—and I really hope that we have an appointment with her in the future.
So, I bought a pair of boots at the beginning of the fall-- and a week later I had an injury to my foot (I didn't really tell you about it because I didn't want you to worry--), so I bought new boots because the old ones caused too much pain when I walked. Well-- then the new ones got holes in them last week. So, I was back to wearing the old ones for a week--that was bad news with the outdoor concerts and such--and some people noticed that I was in a lot of pain-- so apparently they gathered up a bunch of money and gave it to Zr. Fritz so that I could go buy new boots. A part of me feels so guilty--it's not like I don't have money to buy new boots-- but Zr. Fritz keeps telling me I just need to swallow my pride and buy the boots with the money they gave me because they wanted to do something nice. I'm having a really hard time with it, but I think I'm also learning a valuable lesson about humility and accepting help.
To close up, I'll share something Ive been thinking a lot about with Christmas. I've been thinking about the wise men and how they searched for Christ. They didn't know exactly what they would find or where they would find him--they had faith, they searched long and far, and they gave all they had to find him. Just like the wise men, we need to search for Christ. In Ether 12:41 it talks about seeking Christ and how we will be blessed for it. Especially as we are in this Christmas season, I encourage you to seek Christ--He is the way, the truth, and the light. He is the Savior of the World. I love Him so much. and I love you!
Well, I've gotta run, but I'm looking forward to talking with you on Friday.

Zr. Fowler
P.S. Don't worry about me or my foot--everything's fine--it was just this last week that I've been having problems.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Zelfs in de koud, zingen wij graag

From e-mail dated December 14, 2009.

So, this week has been INSANE. I'll tell you all about it when I get the nitty gritty details of everything out of the way.
I'm glad you got to have lunch with Zr. Fritz's parents. I hope it was enjoyable. I've heard a lot about her parents, and they sound pretty great...
So, calling on Christmas-- here comes the real nitty gritty-- So, with the time difference, it's really difficult-- the ward is putting on a dinner for everyone who doesn't have family for Christmas (including the missionaries), and that starts at 4:00 here and they are going until 9:00 (we won't be staying that long, obviously). So-- what works out best with our schedule is having you call at 3:15 here-- which happens to be 7:15 am for you. If that is a problem, let me know and we can do our best to work something else out--but I figure that the kids are usually up and running about by then on Christmas anyway... I hope it works out better this time than on Mother's day.
Okay, so how did things go this week? The concerts were CRAZY! I feel like we didn't do much work in Amsterdam this week because-- well-- we didn't. We took a train to Brussels on Wednesday afternoon and all of the Zusters spent the night in this HUGE (according to European standards) house. It was 5 floors--3 bedroom 2 1/2 bathroom. If you can imagine 11 sisters in this house. It was pretty crazy--especially because only one shower gets hot water at a time--so if two people shower at once, one is ICE cold. Basically, we never got to bed before 11:30. Thursday morning, we had a choir practice, and then the rest of the day we went around singing. The French missionaries came and handed out fliers while we sang. And yes, since we were in Brussels, we sang in French. Good times. We had our performance that night, and it wasn't super well attended... but a number of the people who came were the people we met on the street that day--so that was cool. Oh, so really funny thing that happened while we were in Brussels: so, there are a lot of illegal immigrants, right? Well, a lot of them will take huge table cloths and put them in the middle of the outdoor malls with random things to buy--and then when the police come, they grab the 4 corners of the table cloth and throw it over their back like Santa Clause's bag, and run for it so they don't get caught. It was quite the sight. Poor fellow who gets caught though.
Friday we drove up to Antwerp (ew-- English pronunciation again--) and did the same thing. It was a lot of fun. We then drove back to Brussels and spent the night in Brussels again and caught a train Saturday morning back to Amsterdam. Yeah, pretty crazy week.
Saturday night we had a ROCKING AWESOME dinner with Familie Zwaan (Kim's family). They are headed to America for Christmas, so they invited us over for Christmas dinner. (P.S. if you want to get in contact with her or whatever while she's in Utah, you can look her up on facebook on my account--I think she said she has requested me as a friend, and then you can meet her or whatever--also if you want to send anything back, she has said she could take something small over for us--which sorry, I'm a slacker who didn't get that arranged-- so I'm sure she could bring something small back). They had this cooking thing in the middle of the table, and you just cook your own meat while you are sitting there. It was DELICIOUS!!! And they gave us all sorts of Christmas presents, which was super sweet.
Basically, I love being a missionary.
So, I was reading the Book of Mormon on Saturday in the metro (when the guy sitting across from me didn't want to talk with me-- yeah-- sometimes Dutch people are pretty closed--) and was reading about the predictions of Christ's birth. I recommend studying it. It was SO COOL! I love reading that second witness of Christ. I know He lives and was born so that He could live a life for us. I love sharing that with people. I have the coolest opportunity ever here on my mission.

I love you and am looking forward to talking with you next week.
Zr. Fowler

Monday, December 7, 2009

Shocker of all Shockers

From e-mail dated December 7, 2009

So, we got the news about transfers. And-- you'll never believe it-- I'm-- staying in Amsterdam--as is Zr. Fritz. Yeah, crazy, but super good...
We have some SUPER EXCITING news this week. Are you ready for this? Drumroll please--- KIM IS GETTING BAPTIZED!!! Yesterday in church she told me that I couldn't get transferred because I had to be here for when she gets baptized. We joke around about baptism a lot with her, but we can't really push it because she told us that if she is pushed to do something, then she runs away. Well, when she said that, I said, "Oh, so you're getting baptized, huh?" "Yeah, I've already got a date in mind," she said. But then she wouldn't tell me when--she said we had to find out first whether or not I was staying in Amsterdam. But, at the end of church she just couldn't hold it in anymore and said she wants to get baptized on February 28! That is her grandfather's birthday--and he passed away a while ago (he was a very active member of the church)--so she feels this is a good way to give him a present. We are SO EXCITED!!!
This upcoming week is going to be pretty crazy--we'll be spending a day in Brussels and a day in Antwerpen for the Christmas choir. Then next week we'll be going to Den Haag (The Hague-- ew-- the English way of saying it is so ugly!) and Rotterdam next week. It should be exciting.
This week we went to the temple and it was AMAZING. I miss it. I love the temple so much! The spirit there was amazing and I wish we could have spent more time there. I'm definitely looking forward to weekly temple attendance when I get back.
After the temple we had Zone Conference, which was great! Then we had a choir practice for the mission choir concerts-- that took FOREVER! We usually have to be home at 9:00, right? Well, we didn't even leave the church until about 9:30-- If we had had to travel home to Amsterdam, we wouldn't have even gotten home until midnight-- so instead we spent the night in the Den Haag Zusters apartment--which meant 7 sisters in one apartment. Whoa buddy. It was pretty insane.
Then Saturday was Sinter Klaas. Zr. Fritz ended up putting vegetables in my boots (apparently I'm known as the mission health nut--). I ended up putting some of the chocolate from one of your packages in hers (so, I got one of the Christmas packages, but not the other. And don't worry--I didn't look at everything in the package--I just needed some chocolate for Sinter Klaas and knew that I would find some in there).
Anyway, I have to get running. But I love you so much. Things with the rest of our investigators are pretty much the same. Not too much to report. Pray for Kim and keep praying for the rest of them.
I read President Packer's Conference talk today and it was amazing! I definitely suggest it. One thing that really stuck out to me was his story about the little girl who prayed that her brother's sparrow trap wouldn't catch any sparrows and then she went and kicked it apart. It got me thinking about how prayer is also a principle of action. God is watching over us and He will answer our prayers, but we have to take action and do something as well--there are many things He has given us on this earth to help us, we can't just wait for a miracle to happen--the miracles are all around us and we need to take advantage of them (i.e. medicines for health, etc.)

I love you so much!
Have a wonderful day!
Zuster Fowler