Monday, January 25, 2010

Well, Toto, we're not in Amsterdam anymore

From e-mail dated January 25, 2010.

Greetings from Den Haag. Things here are going well. It's definitely not Amsterdam--it's very different-- but you're right, I feel a little more comfortable with things because I've already been here so often. I know a good part of the ward already, have a general idea about the layout of the city, and have taught a number of the recent converts. When people saw me here that I'd already worked with, they were all really excited and we've got tons of dinner appointments this next week and people who have said to call them to go on joint teach. Hopefully we'll see some awesome ward/investigator interaction this transfer. A lot of the Young Adults here are friends with the Young Adults in Amsterdam, so I'm constantly getting told hello from people and getting small updates on the Amsterdamers. I miss them dearly--and since a lot of them read my blog, I'd like to say hello and tell them I love them (Kim, Joyce, Claire, Mathea-- I don't know if anyone else reads the blog--but if you do, I miss you like crazy!)
Oh! My companion is Zr. Robbins! She and I have been on exchanges 3 times together. And we knew each other from before the mission (we were in the same ward at BYU for a summer), so it will be awesome to get to work with her...
Zr. Robbins and I have seen some amazing miracles this week. On Saturday, the Bishop's daughter was getting baptized. We had some time to do a consecrated hour that morning, and when we prayed about it, we felt really good about going in the area of the church and inviting people to come to the baptism. We had some really good conversations, and one of the men we talked to (Wouter) actually came to the baptism! The spirit really touched him there, and the members of the ward were all super friendly to him. We introduced him to the Elders and he made an appointment to meet with them this week. But it doesn't stop there—he also came to church yesterday!!! He has a lot of questions and is excited to get answers through the members and the Elders (one of the members even walked up to the Elders and asked if he could be the one to go on joint teach with them). I love seeing the work of the Lord in action! When we went finding that morning, we didn't know what would happen—but the Lord definitely did.
This week we've also had some cool experiences with members. We've decided to talk with most of the members we have appointments with over the next little while about the restoration and then commit them to writing their testimony in a copy of the Book of Mormon for us to give away. We then tell them that we will tell them who we give it to and keep them updated with the progress of the person who receives their Book of Mormon. It gives the members a chance to think about how their testimony can influence others, take a role in missionary work, and when these people do progress, the member will feel more of a desire to friendship this person because they received the Book of Mormon they had written their testimony in. When we pick up the Book of Mormon, we are actually going to ask the members if they have someone specific they'd like us to give it to—we did this with one member already this week, and she gave us the name of a friend's aunt who is interested in the church that she'd like us to give it to when we have an appointment. The members who have taken on the challenge are all really excited about it...
I'm really excited to see where missionary work in Den Haag will go this transfer! There are miracles awaiting us. I was studying in the Bible earlier this week, and read in Luke 5: 4-6, 11 about Christ calling Simon to be a disciple. It says, "--Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a drought. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing, nevertheless at they word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: AND THEIR NET BRAKE. And when they had brought their ships to land, THEY FORSOOK ALL AND FOLLOWED HIM.“ This is my theme for the transfer—I haven't seen a whole lot of people enter the waters of baptism... only one of the people I've found, 5 of the people I've taught so far, and one coming up in the near future (yeah Kim!)-- in Den Haag, I will be launching into the deep letting my net down with all my might (if you can let a net down with your might :)--Zr. Robbins made fun of me for that one--can you imagine? 'come on net! Go deeper! Go deeper!'), and the Lord will bring the people in such great abundance that the net will brake, as we forsake all and follow Him. I'm prepared to do that this transfer—Zr. Robbins and I are working on it together.
I love you so much! You are constantly in my prayers. I can't believe I'll be hitting my year mark on Thursday. CRAZY! Time flies by. I've got a lot of work to do.

I love you!
Zr. Fowler

Monday, January 18, 2010

A week of change.

From e-mail dated January 18, 2010.

Well, here's the news. I'm being transferred. I'm going to miss Amsterdam like crazy. I'm really sad that I'll miss Kim's baptism, but that's the way life goes. I had some really great inspiration about it about a week ago and wrote it all down, so I'm glad I was already able to give it to Zr. Fritz. My MTC companion, Zr. Ekstrom, will be coming down from Groningen to work with Zr. Fritz. They will be awesome together, and I'm sure Amsterdam is ready for some change. There's only so much one place can handle of Zr. Fowler before they need to kick her out.
So, I'm going to The Hague (EEEW--English ways of saying things stink!)...
So, what's been going on here?
Well, yesterday I had foo foo for the first time since my first week on the mission. As much as I love the African people here-- the African food is not my favorite. I actually enjoy a lot of different kinds of African food, but foo foo is not exactly one of them. Foo foo is basically a special kind of flour paste that you eat with a soup. The soup is usually pretty good (this time we had granite soup), but the foo foo itself is a little much for me--I just can't get over the slimy texture.
Oh, we had the most interesting exchanges this week-- I went on exchanges with Zr. Bennett--and we travelled up to Zaandam to work for the day (it is in the area of Amsterdam, but a little far away, so we don't go there very often). Well, we looked up some old investigators and visited a couple of inactive members. When we rang the doorbell for one of the members we visited, the door was opened, and there were two police standing there. I thought, "No way--two encounters with police in two weeks-- you've got to be kidding me!" Well, they were there to take her to jail because she had a parking fine that is two years old and she didn't have enough money in the house to pay it (with all of the added fines from not paying it, it was about 115 euros). Her son was on the way to pay it, but he wasn't going to get there fast enough, so we looked in our wallets, and with all of our money combined we had barely enough to help her pay her fine so that she wouldn't go to jail. Wow, talk about CRAZINESS!
I had a neat experience this week. As I was sitting in the bus after Zone Conference, I got this really strong impression that I needed to talk to the man sitting in another area of the bus. I prayed to Heavenly Father and told Him I thought it was going to be weird, but asked Him to fill my mouth. I opened my mouth and what came out was, I don’t know why, but I feel like I should ask you if you want to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. What? That’s the BEST I could come up with? Well, he asked me what it was about, and by the time I got out of the bus, we had an appointment for this week. It was a testimony to me that the Lord knows what will reach people the best and knows who is ready.
Kim is doing great. I still haven't told her I'm being transferred-- we'll see her in a few minutes to go to lunch-- I love that girl way too much. I'll miss her like crazy.
I'm going to miss a lot of people here-- it wasn't this hard to say goodbye to Haarlem--but there are a lot of people here that I REALLY have grown to love. But being transferred, as hard as it is, is a part of missionary life--there are people in other places that need me--I'm done what the Lord needed me to do here (I hope anyway--)
Well, I've gotta get going--we're already going to be late for lunch...

Zr. Fowler

Monday, January 11, 2010

Een van de gekste dagen OOIT!

From e-mail dated January 10, 2010.

So, things here have been INSANE! Where to begin with only 15 minutes left to email? AAAH! Okay, well, I'll begin with some SUPER exciting news! One of the Elders' investigators (and we've taught him a couple of times as well) got baptized!!! His name is Kwame and he is from Ghana. He is AMAZING! Here's his story--one day after church the Elders were sitting around making phone calls and in walks Kwame. Kwame had seen a speech by Mitt Romney where he talked about his religion (I think it's the one from when he ran for President) and he was really touched by the spirit--he said he knew then that the church Mitt belonged to was true, and he began to search for the church. He finally found it, and when he walked in, he told the Elders he wanted to be baptized. Well, that was about 6 weeks ago, and on Saturday he was baptized. It was AMAZING! Sadly, he still hasn't received the Holy Ghost because church was cancelled on Sunday due to the weather (really, the weather was NOTHING compared to Utah weather, but what can you do--they just aren't used to it here).
(Okay, I magically got more time on my computer--I'm not sure how-- but since I still have more time on my email, I'll use what I can get--yay for miracles that give you even more than 15 minutes on the computer).
But, maybe I should tell you what happened that day BEFORE the baptism. It was probably the CRAZIEST day of my entire life! (Zr. Fritz is being really creative with how she is emailing her parents about this--and I would love to copy her-- but then I'd feel dumb, so you can read her blog if you want to see how this is told in creativity.)
So, we didn't have a whole lot of appointments Saturday--they all got cancelled (seriously, people can't do anything when there is snow on the ground here)--so we decided to look up some former investigators and inactive members. We hopped in the metro to go look up an inactive member, and I was talking to a man from Africa. Zr. Fritz was sitting with her back to me in the metro. We had a good chat and exchanged numbers so that he can come to an activity at the church. He then called the phone (which Zr. Fritz had) to make sure he had given me the right number. We heard the phone ring, and he (assuming the sound was just coming from my bag) hung up. Well, Zr. Fritz hadn't overheard our conversation, and she saw that she missed a call on the phone--so as we are still sitting there chatting, his phone starts to ring--he looks at it confusedly and says, "Your phone-- it is calling me--" We then started to laugh as I explained that Zr. Fritz had it. It was hilarious.
Then we went walking through the centrum to look up an inactive member--and on the way we ran into some members from Idaho--they took our pictures and are going to email them to you. We walked with them a ways because they were going to the Anne Frank House, which was on the same street as the member we were looking up-- and-- as it turns out-- is actually the same house. Obviously this inactive member didn't want any contact with the church.
Then we went back to a place we had seen on our way to her house to do some finding--we started ringing bells and people just weren't interested. Then all of a sudden, a police car pulls up-- someone had called them to say that two suspicious women were ringing in the neighborhood ringing on people's bells. They told us we should probably avoid neighborhoods in the centrum and took down our names in case anyone ever calls us in again-- whoa buddy--this is my first interaction with the police on my mission.
After that, the day was pretty normal--we went to look up an old investigator and she was SO excited to see us! She is super positive and I'm looking forward to teaching her.
Things with Kim are GREAT! She is as fabulous as ever. Keep her in your prayers. And pray for her dad, too--his name is Eric--I'd really love to see their family be able to be sealed in the temple.
Moses came to church last week... we haven't had an appointment with him that has gone through since before Christmas. We basically told him this week that he has got to take some action of his own and that his baptism can't go through in February unless he decides to pick it up. He wasn't too phased. Sad day.
We had a really cool lesson this week with a woman named Esther. We felt like we should sing 'I am a Child of God’—this was our first lesson with her, and she was a referral from a member—we didn’t know how it was going to turn out—she had investigated the church before and we weren’t really sure why she stopped. We went over to her house and as we sang for her, she burst into tears. She told us that one of the members came and sang that by her husband’s bedside the day that he passed away and that she knew that we were sent from God. She then really opened up to us. She told us why she stopped investigating the church and why she never got baptized—she’s still not sure she should get baptized now, but at least now we can see a little more of the iceberg than anyone has before. It was such a neat experience.
As far as transfers next week-- I'm really hoping to stay in Amsterdam at least one more. I love it so much here. I feel like I'm staying, but we'll see what happens. If I do get to stay, it will be the best transfer EVER--Kim's baptism, I'll get to go to the temple with a new convert (not many missionaries get to with someone they didn't baptize, but since I've worked with her so much, President has given me special permission if I'm still in Amsterdam), and just amazing miracles. Zr. Fritz feels like she's leaving, but we'll see what happens... I don't know. Whatever happens is because God wants it to be that way.
As for a spiritual thought, I just want to let you know how much happiness the gospel brings. I've seen people change because of the gospel--they become softer and more christlike as time goes on. That is the beauty of the gospel and of repentance--repentance is not about guilt--it is about changing ourselves every day to become more like Christ. I read the conference talk this week called 'Repent... that I may heal you' (or something like that)--I definitely recommend it--use it for FHE or something. I loved it!

Well, I'm going to jet. I love you!
Zuster Fowler

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 comes in with a BANG!

From e-mail dated January 4, 2010

Amsterdam has been INSANE this week.
Tuesday we got to go to Haarlem!!! Oh, how I miss it. I love Haarlem so much! There were some referrals there that needed to be looked up, and with no missionaries in Haarlem, it falls under our area now (but we can't go out there often enough to keep up with the investigators...). Anyway, because we got to go to Haarlem for the day, we set up an appointment with Azelea! I have missed her and Belina to death. It was so good to see them and to spend some time with them, talking with them about the gospel. She isn't going to church in Haarlem because she doesn't know anyone there now that there aren't any missionaries and because no one really speaks English there. Sad day. Really, it is SO important that investigators have friends in the church. We try so hard as missionaries to introduce the investigators to the members, but the members have really got to take a hold of the investigators and build strong relationships with them because we missionaries just aren't around forever. In ieder geval-- it was super awesome to be able to spend some time in Haarlem again. The Elders came to Haarlem to look up half of the referrals, and so they tried to take one of the bikes and achter op, but-- Elder Bastiaens has never really ridden a bike--so it didn't really work-- at all. It was HILARIOUS though. Quite the sight. Imagine, a Belgian who has never really ridden a bike, trying to bike around with another Elder sitting on the back--and then they get all frustrated, so Elder Howell tries biking with Elder Bastiaens on the back--but Elder Bastiaens is probably 2 times as big as Elder Howell-- We got a kick out of it. Ah, gotta love missionary work.
Wednesday we had interviews with President. Once again, my interview was only 10 minutes-- but it was exactly what I needed... One thing he mentioned in my interview, is he asked when I would be going home-- ah! I don't even want to think about it! He said that I need to think about it before our interview next transfer. BAH!...
The training the ZL's planned for interviews was HILARIOUS. It was a boot camp. We had to do 3 legged races, a human pretzel, and feed our companion vla while being blindfolded. CRAZY! We talked a lot about unity, and it was a really good training. Kim is finally back from America! I am SO HAPPY! I've missed her like crazy. We're the first people she called when she stepped out of the plane. Man, that made us feel special. I love her so much. We went to her house for dinner on New Year's Eve.
Speaking of New Year's Eve-- Tjonge jongen! INSANE! So, New Year's Eve/New Year's Day is the only day where fireworks are legal in the Netherlands--and ANYTHING goes. Fireworks were being set off all over the place the whole day long. We went to bed at 10:30 and got woken up right before midnight with what sounded like World War III. It was crazy. The fireworks went until at least 2:00 in the morning. Then the next day, we went out to do missionary work, and there was NO ONE outside. This is the first time that I've seen Amsterdam dead still. I don't think I'll ever see it like that again.
Saturday I played the organ at a funeral. It was actually a funeral of the mother of a member from Spain-- and none of the rest of the family is a member. So, the only members in the entire church were us, the son, and the Bishop. When we sang the opening and closing song, these were also the only ones singing. The talks were really interesting-- they were mostly just letters to the mom. But when the member son spoke, the spirit was SO strong! He talked about the resurrection and about Jesus Christ. It was amazing!
Then Sunday was the farewell of Duco van Doesburg--he is coming to our mission (can you imagine--Utah is 6 times as big as the Netherlands-- and he was called to his own country-- it would be like me going on a mission to Logan--) There were a TON of people in church and it was really cool to see all of the Young Adults in the Netherlands come together to see him off.
Well, I've gotta get running. But I love you a lot. There are so many amazing things that happened this week--I wish I could tell them all. The Lord is definitely in this work. He is there, watching out for each of His children--especially for each of you.

I love you.
Zuster Fowler