Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A really great week in Den Haag

From e-mail dated March 29, 2010.

...It's been a really great week here in Den Haag. We have found more new investigators in this one week than I think we've found in the last 3 or 4 weeks combined. We really committed ourselves to focusing on finding new investigators and making time for them through letting eternal investigators go, and the Lord has blessed us abundantly. We have found them in consecrated hours, between appointments, while standing by our bikes after looking up a referral, and basically everywhere. It has been a really great week. One of the new investigators we have found was on Saturday. We rang her bell and she came over the speaker and said that we had come by last week--we said we hadn't, and she asked of we are JW's and when we said no, we're from another church, she let us in. Her name is Abies and she is from Nigeria. She stopped going to her church about a year ago because her Pastor tried to break her family up. We talked about how God's plan is for families to be together forever and we watched a 6 minute movie called Finding Happiness (I LOVE that movie! I've really become a church movie nerd!). When the movie was over she said, "I felt the spirit so strongly. Where is the church? I can't go tomorrow, but the Lord has told me that even if this church is 2 hours away, I need to go." Tjonge jongen! The spirit was so thick you could cut it with a knife! It was AMAZING! We have an appointment with her on Wednesday and we are going to commit her to baptism. Please pray for her and her family (her husband is in Nigeria right now-- so we haven't met him yet, but he is coming back within the next couple of weeks).
Oh, so I have a funny story that shows basically how awkward I'm going to be when I come home. We were at district meeting on Tuesday and we were doing some practices. The District Leader took a few of us out in the hall so that he could give us some characters to be. We did the first practice, and then it was time for the others to get characters, so everyone else went out in the hall--but Elder Hanson (the district leader) had to go with them to give them their characters--and the last person to leave the room shut the door behind them--so it was just me and Elder Howell. We looked a little panicked at each other and said, "Whoa, this is awkward!" and then we went and opened the door and told one of them to come back in. Oh, the joys of being a missionary. I don't know what I'm going to do--I'll basically never get married because I'll just be awkward the rest of my life.
We went on Wednesday to Brussels again to take care of getting a new passport for Zr. Reber. It was an adventure. The US embassy has so many guards! And you walk past the rest of the embassies and they have basically no security. It's pretty crazy. While there a couple asked us to witness as they signed some papers to buy an apartment in New York, so we got to talk with them about the gospel--and that was super cool. That night we had one of the worst appointments of my mission--the spirit just wasn't there because the man just wasn't open. He was criticizing us and telling us that we weren't qualified to teach the gospel. Our Joint Teach, Zr. Mule, stopped him and told him how grateful she was for the missionaries and she bore super powerful testimony--when she was done, his whole attitude changed. It was amazing! I love the members!

AAH! I've gotta run or I'll lose this.
I love you!
Zr. Fowler

Monday, March 22, 2010

Quite a week.

From e-mail dated March 22, 2010.

Well, it's been quite the week. Tuesday we had to go to Brussels for legality (we'll be going again this week Wednesday because Zr. Reber's passport has some problems, so we have to go to the consulate), Thursday we had interviews, and Sunday was Marvel's baptism.
So, I guess I should start out with the information you've been waiting for from interviews-- President and I talked about when I'll be coming home. I've been doing a lot of praying and thinking about it because I knew he would ask me what my thoughts and feelings were. Whenever I thought about coming home in August I would get super excited, but also stressed out of my mind-- and when I thought about coming home in July I would get sad, but also a really strong peaceful feeling would come. Through my life, I've had many different experiences with how the spirit speaks with me--but one thing that I always know is the spirit is that feeling of peace. The sadness is normal because when you love your mission so much, there's no way you won't be sad when you leave, whether earlier or later. Anyway, the final decision is that I'll be coming home in July. The transfer day is July 7, which means I will probably be reaching Utah on July 9.
I have decided that between now and then, I'm going to read the Book of Mormon again--and my last night--while in the mission home, I'm going to read Moroni 10 and apply Moroni's promise again. I'm excited to be able to do this again. I've done it many times throughout my life, but it never fails that I receive an answer from my Heavenly Father that it is true--He will always answer us! I'd like to invite each of you to take on this challenge with me. I've done the math, and it's 5 pages of the Book of Mormon a day. We can share with each other the things we've been learning as you write letters, and then, the day that I come home, I'd like to have a testimony meeting with the family. Remember this is an invitation--you only have to do it if you want to... but I know that your lives will be blessed as you take this on--as you read the Book of Mormon with real intent, as you talk about it with each other, and as you pray and ask God for yourself if it is true. If friends want to take on the challenge as well, please include yourself in the invitation--I'd love to hear the things you learn and feel as you read. I'd also love to hear your testimonies when I come home--maybe we can get together soon after I come home and share our testimonies with one another.
There are a couple of other things--the day after I come home, I'd really love to be able to go to the temple with mom and dad (and whoever... but mostly mom and dad). I'd love to be able to go to the Provo temple, if possible...
Marvel’s baptism went through this week (even with him being gone on vacation the week before) and it was great! It was a little harried putting it all together, but it went really well and the spirit was really strong. Marvel had invited a number of his friends and their parents, so a lot of people came inside the church for the first time and we had a couple of investigators come who also brought friends. We also had a number of investigators who didn’t come, who had promised to come—and we feel like that has let us know that they aren’t as serious about investigating as they have professed to be. We have prayed a lot and have decided to completely give them back to the Lord. We were really struggling with that last night, but after we had dedicated ourselves to the Lord to say we were going to do this, we received a text message from someone who came to the baptism but had to leave a little early saying that he was really glad he came and he really wants to meet with us to talk about what he felt and to learn more about the church. I know that the Lord will bless us with the people who really are ready for the gospel. We have had such a hard time finding new investigators these last couple of weeks—and this is a big step of faith for us, but I know that the Lord will bless us with new investigators as we completely dedicate ourselves to following Him and His will.
Well, I'm going to run so I can attach a couple of pictures really quick.

I love you!
Zr. Fowler

Monday, March 15, 2010

Still undecided

From e-mail dated March 15, 2010.

So, I still don't know when I'm coming home. I really don't think I can come home in August and go immediately into work and school--I'd like to spend a little time with the family and have the chance to get back into work before the first day of NSO. But I'd also like to stay on my mission as long as possible. I'll be talking with President about it in interviews on Thursday.
One really neat experience this week is that we were in an area that’s a little far away for an appointment, so we decided to spend the whole day in the area. Well, the appointment didn’t go through-- so we just talked with people on the street the whole afternoon. We hadn’t had time to pack dinner, so we decided to go to a little snack bar and grab something to eat before heading to our appointment back in the middle of town. As we were standing in line, there was a family in front of us and the little 2 year old girl kept coming over to me to show her book to me and we would read together. We exchanged pleasantries with the parents, and as we were all waiting for our food they asked, "So, you are from a church?" We started talking to them about the church and they are really active in their own church, but were intrigued by our beliefs. At the end of the conversation, they weren’t quite ready to make an appointment because they are really happy with their church, but they told us that they really felt the spirit during our conversation and will be looking into the church a little more. Even though it didn’t lead to new investigators, it was fun to apply the principle of talking to everyone...
We also had quite the amount of bike problems this week. Zr. Reber's bike basically died. The tire blew up and her chain fell off all in the same day. We managed to still make it to all of our appointments riding achterop--although we were a half an hour late for them all. It was quite the day.
As far as Marvel—our baptismal date—goes-- well-- he went on vacation this week and we didn’t know he was going to be gone. His mom had said she was leaving for a couple of days-- but she made it sound like they were only going to miss one appointment—and we haven’t seen them or been able to reach them on the telephone since-- hopefully they will come back soon—his baptism is supposed to be Sunday, which is still possible, and the ward is still willing-- but it’s going to be quite the crunch.
We do have this AMAZING investigator named Jordana though--she's super. She's the one who came with us to Kim's baptism. There's one big problem though-- she works on Sundays and can never come to church. PLEASE pray for her to be able to find a way to come to church on Sundays and for us to know how to teach her in a way that will help her to have enough faith to do whatever it takes to make it there.
We also got the opportunity to go to District Leader Council this week. The Elders invited us to come so that we could have a 'true council' and make some goals for the Zone. It was a neat experience--they usually don't have sisters at DLC. It was good to receive some training--the District Leaders on being a DL, but a lot of what they received was also really applicable to me as a trainer--and then it was really neat to be a part of making some goals for the Zone.
Yesterday we had one more really neat experience. We were doing a consecrated hour of finding and had been talking to people in this neighborhood opstraat. Every once in a while we would knock on a door if we felt like we should. Well, we felt like we should walk down a specific street, but there was NO ONE on the street. As we walked down the street, I saw a door on the other side of the street and felt like we should knock on it. A woman came to the door and she said her mother had just passed away a week ago and that she didn't really have time. Well, I asked if she needed anything and asked if we could maybe pray for her. She looked at us for a minute and then invited us in. We talked with her about life after death and shared some scriptures with her from the Book of Mormon. She was really touched and felt like her mom sent us to her. She didn't want to make an appointment because she said, "I know that you are sent to help people come into your church and that's not going to happen, but I do want to read this book and come to church sometime soon." It was a neat feeling though to be able to talk with someone who we felt like Heavenly Father had sent us to at a specific time when she needed some support. We always know that God sends us places where the people need us, but sometimes you don't get to seen who or why in the moment you are there.
Well, I've gotta get running. I love you a lot. Please keep us in your prayers--I'm praying for you as well.

Monday, March 8, 2010

More miracles

From e-mail dated March 8, 2010.

So, my new companion is Zuster Reber from California. She's great. She's a really hard worker--and once again someone who was majoring in German, so her Dutch is really good (she just has a REALLY strong German accent so everyone thinks she is German). It's always interesting having a new companion--but especially more of an adjustment when they're brand new! She's wonderful and I'm excited for this transfer. We've already seen a lot of miracles this week and will see plenty more as the transfer continues...
We've had some really neat things happen this week—Friday was a day full of miracles and interesting experiences unlike any other I've ever seen on my mission. We were doing a consecrated hour right before weekly planning, and we felt like we should do it in our neighborhood, just talking to people opstraat. We walked out of our apartment, and the first woman we started talking to was Hindu. She wasn't really interested, but as we were showing her a card with the picture of Christ, another woman walked up and said, "What are you doing here with the Lord Jesus on the street?! He belongs in His house! Come, come with me to the Lord's house!" She then took the card out of our hands held it in front of her and began walking and talking to herself while kissing the picture af en toe. We looked at each other and thought, "Is this woman crazy?!" But then we followed her. She led us to an inloophuis—a place where people could just walk in and talk about God and Christ. She showed all of the people there the picture and said, "Look who I found on the street! The Lord whispered in my ear that they are Mormons. He told me to bring them here and that they have a message for you. You all need to listen!" She then turned to us and said, "The Lord said you need to be here—teach them."And then she turned around and walked out the door. All of the people were sitting there staring at us. This place is on our street and I've never noticed it before! They invited us to sit down and then they started firing questions at us about the church. They were about to close up for lunch, so they didn't have a ton of time—but they all asked if they could have a card and asked us to bring by some information later about family history. Before we left they asked if we could read a part of the Bible and pray together. We asked if anyone would be interested in meeting with us and they said that we were always welcome to come back to the inloophuis, but no one wanted to meet with us one on one. When we all walked out, everyone went their separate ways and we were walking down the street a little awestruck when one of the men who was walking a ways ahead of us turned around and waved us to come to him. He said, "I want to learn all about your church. I want to know what this Book of Mormon is and why you are here. I want to come to church and see what it's all about." He gave us his number and said he would call when he knows his work schedule next week. Sadly, he didn't come to church on Sunday—but we will be talking with him tomorrow. This is one of the weirdest/most interesting/who knows what experiences of my entire mission—but the Lord works in mysterious ways.
We also set 3 new baptismal dates this week with a wonderful family. They are former investigators of the Elders and a few weeks ago, Zuster Robbins and I were in the neighborhood looking up an inactive. The inactive no longer lives there-- but we talked with a man who said that some other people in the building would be interested-- well, they weren't but we asked them if they knew anyone who would be interested and they said no, but a little boy standing next to us said--I KNOW! He told us to bell number 40. We did and she let us up. We started talking with her about her religious background and asked if she went to a church, she said, "Actually, I've been you YOUR church!" We then found out she used to meet with the Elders. She and her son came to church that Sunday. The Elders made an appointment to go by the next week and talked with her about the Restoration again. This last Sunday, Zuster Robbins and I felt like we needed to go back, so we asked the Elders if we could go again and they said they thought it was great. We went and taught her, her son, and her boyfriend about the plan of Salvation and at the end we felt like we should commit them to be baptized and they all said they want to! Their current date is for April 4--the Elders will teach them twice a week and we will teach them once a week. They are super sweet. The big obstacle is going to be the law of chastity-- so we're talking about that one this week. Hopefully their testimony will be strong enough that they will be open to the spirit and follow this commandment so that they can be baptized.
Marvel is getting baptized in 2 weeks--and he's super excited. You've got to love 9 year old excitement and faith!
I love you all very much. I have to get going--but know that you are in my prayers. I'd love to know how things are going with Chris and with the rest of the kids. How's grandma doing as well? I can't believe how fast time flies...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Another AMAZING week

From e-mail dated March 1, 2010

Hi! So, as you can see--we now have a new email system, and thus a new email address. If you send things to the old address, I should still get them. Speaking of changes-- transfers are this week-- and-- I'm-- staying in Den Haag--and I'm training again. Zr. Robbins is being transferred to Dordrecht. Zr. Fritz is also being transferred away from Amsterdam and going to Rotterdam.
So, this has been another AMAZING week! I would venture to say that it is the BEST week of my mission so far! Things just keep getting better and better. I LOVE the life of a missionary.
Yes, I did get the Valentine's package--I got it just last Friday at Zone Conference. It was SUPER sweet. Thanks so much! It was nice to see that mom put so much thought and effort into it to ask people even just to take 2 seconds to sign a card. Thanks so much mom. I hadn't heard about the storm and such at all! We did have pretty much constant rain and a lot of wind this weekend-- but I just thought it was normal Netherlands weather. We got soaked a lot and there were times when we would be riding our bikes and it took SO much energy and we would barely go a few meters in a minute--I almost felt like we were standing still! It was pretty crazy--but it's also not super out of the ordinary for the Netherlands.
So, I should tell you about this week. First off-- KIM GOT BAPTIZED!!! And guess who got to go? Yup! I actually got to go! Then on Sunday, as the sacrament prayers were being said, I got a super strong impression that we needed to send a couple of our investigators to her baptism because I knew what it was going to be like, and they were going to need that kind of an experience. Well, we invited EVERY investigator that we have, and 3 of them ended up going. One of them is a brand new investigator from England named Jordana. She is AMAZING!!! She is so sincere and really wants to know what God's plan for her is. We met her 3 weeks or so ago opstraat in a big shopping area, and she was in a rush, but we told her about the Center for Young Adults here and exchanged information. We called her about a week later to come to an activity, but she couldn't come--but she said, I'm going to write it in my planner now to come to the center on Thursday next week. Well, that was the day I was on exchanges-- but she did come! Then on Sunday she was going to come to Relief Society, but ended up having to work earlier than she thought-- so after church, we called her up and invited her to dinner with a member. She came! And she loved it! And she said she wants to learn about the church! She came with us on Wednesday to another dinner appointment and we taught her about the Restoration. She is already reading in the Book of Mormon and praying about it! We then invited her to come to Kim's baptism on Saturday. She said she definitely wanted to go! So, since she didn't really know anyone who would be going, we decided to call President and ask if we could go with her--and what do you know? He said yes! So, I was able to attend Kim's baptism (an answer to her prayers) and Jordana loved the experience. She feels the spirit. She knows this is something good and full of love. I'm super excited to see her progress!
We also set a baptismal date yesterday! His name is Marvel and he is 9 years old. His mom is a member, but they are from Africa and when they moved here they didn't know how to find the church. They've been coming to church for a long time now and he really wants to be baptized. He was so sick at church yesterday, but he wanted to be there so badly and wanted to be sure to have our lesson after church. When we set a baptismal date, he turned to his mom and said, "Mom! I'm finally getting baptized!!!" He is so excited. We just had a meeting with the Primary presidency this morning, and they are going to try to get all of the kids from the primary at his baptism. He is getting baptized on March 21!
Friday we had Zone Conference in A'dam. I love A'dam with all my heart! But Zone Conference was AMAZING!!! We talked about being guided by the spirit, planning with passion, and being BOLD and talking about baptism early and often. I'm so excited to strive to work on these things even more this transfer and see the miracles that come from it...
Something else really cool--we decided to try a new form of finding this week-- concert finding :) Zr. Robbins is a violin performance major, and since I play piano, we put together a concert this week and performed at a member's house for all of her friends. The member is from China, so most of the people who came were also from China and had little or no Christian background. We were able to introduce them to the gospel--especially who Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are and their love for us--through music. It was such a neat experience! We hope to be hearing from some of them/seeing some of them soon-- I especially wish I'd just committed a certain woman to meet with us-- but I didn't-- so I will talk with the member to see if we can set up a dinner appointment where she comes as well.
I love this work SO MUCH!!! And I love you! This gospel is a gospel of love and of miracles.
Pray for Jordana, my new companion, Marvel, and Brother Daho. And I'll keep praying for you all. I love you!!!

Zuster Fowler