Monday, May 31, 2010

Challenging but rewarding.

From e-mail date May 31, 2010.

Wow. This transfer is definitely going to be one of the most challenging I think, but also one of the most rewarding. Training in a threesome is an experience unlike I've had in any other companionship and it's hard-- but it's good. Zr. Cranford is an AMAZING missionary! It's just difficult making sure we give her all the opportunities she can have because Zr. Reber and I are so used to teaching together. So, to help her be able to have more opportunities, we've been trying to go on splits—but that is also difficult because the companionship sometimes feels like it is two different companionships instead of that we are all unified. I'm really trying to figure out how we find that balance. Do you have any insights?
Isatu and Mary are doing great. They are ready to be baptized, but they want to wait for Isatu's uncle to be ready. They set a new official date this last week. Their baptismal date is currently set for 26 June. We are hoping to get them really connected with the ward before that comes—we are taking leaders in the ward on Joint Teach and the whole family has friends in the ward.
Brigitte is doing well. She's so involved in the ward--it's wonderful! We went to her lesson this week and she had a couple of friends there. It was interesting because one of them was a little contentious-- but when we talked with Brigitte she said she knew it was true and it didn't matter what her friend said. At the end of the lesson we testified that we knew that what we had taught was true (the plan of salvation) and testified of the importance of it in their lives. After we had testified, the female friend (Bisou) turned to me and said, "When can you come over to my house? I want to talk with you more about this." She really felt the spirit--I'm excited to meet with her again.
I went with a member to an appointment with Quincy this week and we talked about faith, repentance, baptism, the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. He told us how he had received a spiritual confirmation this week that being baptized was the right thing and we committed him to pray about a date. Well, yesterday after Sunday School Quincy walked up to me and said,"June 26--I want to be baptized on June 26." He is SO excited! He has been telling the whole ward about it and everyone is talking about how they are going to be coming to his baptism. He's even making a facebook event so that he can invite all of his friends. He's calling it "Zwemmen in de naam van de Vader, de Zoon, en de Heilige Geest." (Swimming in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost). Oh, brother. He's quite the character. He's doing wonderfully.
Yesterday, a Sister came home from her mission in England, so she gave her homecoming talk. I was basically bawling the whole time-- It's just becoming way too real-- Being in such a complicated threesome is helping me keep my mind focused on the work--but in moments like that it just hits me that a full time mission comes to an end. I'm excited to take her on splits though--she and I have A LOT in common. We both have broken a foot on our missions and she had the same companion situation her last transfer as I do now--I'm interested to see what her experience was.
Oh, something else funny that happened yesterday-- a group of BYU students came to our ward. They are on study abroad for art history-- and one of them just happened to be one of my old co-workers from Freshman Academy--Lorianne Frodsham. It was crazy to see her again and to hear about all of the changes that have happened at FA since I left. Wow. Life is going to be different when I come back.
If you get the chance to go to Abree's reception, give her a big hug for me. And yes, I think I would like to go to my reunion-- wow, that's going to be weird. I'm not sure if you've planned any vacations or anything, and if you have going to the reunion isn't that big of a deal, but it could be cool to see people again (or it may just make me wish even more that I was back in the Netherlands). You can go ahead and RSVP if you don't have anything already planned for me to be doing that day.
I have no idea what Kim's plans are. Sorry. Just email her and you can arrange things that way.
And no, I haven't gotten the package yet--but we are having Zone Conference next week (I'll be doing the musical number and I think I already will be giving my goodbye testimony) and I should get it then.
Tell the kids congratulations for all of their awards this year--it shows how much hard work they have been doing. Keep it up!
I'll leave you with a short thought from the scriptures that I have made as my transfer theme:
It is in Alma 23:6
And As sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them--yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away.
I know that this is a marvelous work I have the opportunity to do. And as we all work on it together, we will be able to help these people so that they never fall away. The role of the member in missionary work is so important! I love you all so much!
Zuster Fowler

Monday, May 24, 2010

Final transfer

From e-mail dated May 24, 2010

Note from Chantelle's father:
We received a letter from the mission home last week stating that Chantelle's release date would be August 2nd. This was very confusing to us since she had already told us she would be coming home around July 8th or 9th. We even called the mission home in Brussels to verify her release date, and they told us that August 2nd was correct. I informed her of this when I e-mail her last night. Her response is in the following paragraph. -- GRF

So, the office called me this week since you called them and asked me if I had talked to President about my release date. I told them we had decided I'd be going home in July--but I didn't know it was an option to go home in the middle of the transfer! They just asked are you going home in July or August. Now part of me wants to stay until August 2--I thought it was end of August that they had mailed you about! Okay, I just called the office--it's not an option to go home in the middle of the transfer-- so my official date is 8 July. They are going to email you about that as well.
Now, for the news about transfers. Zr. Reber and I are staying in Den Haag--but I am also going to be training again. So we will be in a threesome (a first since the MTC-- but there didn't really count since I was never with my sister companions anyway). It should be an adventure and also a challenge. We are really going to have to be conscious of her needs and feelings--we've been together two transfers and have learned how to teach with each other, and I can imagine that that will be difficult to bring someone else in (especially someone who is brand new and doesn't understand Dutch very well). We are also going to have to be conscious of unity as a companionship--it will be a good thing to have three people because we are so busy and will now have the opportunity to go on splits more often-- but it could also make it seem like there is a third wheel sometimes. Pray for us that we'll be able to build unity between the three of us so that the spirit can work through us.
We have had a really awesome week this week!
Monday we had a lesson with the man I had written about a couple of weeks ago--the one who came up to us in the park saying that his neighbor had put our card in his mailbox. Well, turns out that this man (Tibor) is a Jehovah's Witness-- so it was quite the appointment-- actually it went really well. He had invited another JW to come as well and we actually had a really open conversation about what we believe in and it wasn't until the end when they started trying to prove us wrong through the Bible--at that point we had to leave and we just testified of the importance of prayer and that the only way to know if it was all true was through prayer. In the end he actually took a copy of the Book of Mormon and asked if it would be possible to have another appointment after he had read. We said that we would be willing to if he wanted to and that he could call us for an appointment--we didn't set a new one right then because if he really is interested he'll call us, and we're not interested in Bible Bashing.
Wednesday we had a wonderful appointment with Brigitte and her husband. We brought a French speaking member with us and watched the Restoration. It was wonderful! At the end of the movie Roger said he felt emotional as he watched it. We then read Galatians 5:22 and he said that these were the things he felt. He didn't come to church with Brigitte this week-- but hopefully he will come along soon.
Thursday we had an AMAZING appointment with Isatu and her children (Mary and Abu). We went through the baptismal interview questions with them so that we could know what we still need to teach before they get baptized in June (they still haven't set a specific date), and they were all bearing powerful testimony to us about the Savior and about the restoration. The spirit was SO strong! Isatu told us how grateful she is for the Savior and that His church is back on the earth. She is getting more and more light in her eyes every time we teach her. At the end, 4 year old Abu gave the closing prayer. As he prayed he said, "Thank you God that we have found the true church." It was such a wonderful moment! I love being a missionary!
Friday we had an AWESOME appointment with Quincy. His mom wasn't there (she's been a little off-standish lately-- we think her social connections to her other church are making her question whether it's good to investigate). We talked with him about the restoration of the priesthood--and he had studied a lot about the priesthood. As we talked with him about how it was lost and restored through Joseph Smith he said, "This all makes sense. No wonder the world was in such a mess." Afterwards we asked him what he was feeling about the church and about baptism. He said he wants to be baptized! He said that ever since he walked into the JoVo Contrum for the first time that he felt at home and he feels the spirit has been guiding him to learn more and more. He said the only thing that is holding him back is a lack of knowledge. We talked about how you will not know everything, and our Joint Teach (Zr. Scherf), who was baptized when she was his age, talked about how she knew it was true through the spirit and even though she didn't know EVERYTHING, that she knew it was right and that now, 30 years later, she still learns something new about the gospel almost every day. He said he is going to think and pray about baptism and let us know when he wants to get baptized. He then came to a baptismal service on Saturday (one of the Elders'investigators got baptized) and really felt the spirit and told one of the Elders that he'll be baptized within a month. We'll see how it goes--but hopefully he'll be able to be baptized before I come home!
Well, my time is almost up. I hope that it's going well for you all in reading in the Book of Mormon. It has been AMAZING! I read in Alma 42 today and had so many insights about the Fall! I love it!

And I love you!
Have a wonderful week!
Zuster Fowler

Monday, May 17, 2010

Crazy week.

From e-mail dated May 17, 2010.

Wow, it sounds like it's been a crazy week. It's also been pretty crazy here-- but in a lot of different ways.
So, I've got another "getting-hit-on-by-a-Muslim-man" story for you. This one is pretty good. We were biking to an appointment on Monday evening and I stopped at a light. Well, I'm on my third bike of my mission (my other one was about to die, so a member gave me another to use for the last couple of months), and this bike makes a lot of squeaking when you stop. A young man in front of me turned around when he heard the noise and then he did a double take. He said something about my bike making noise and then he saw my name tag and he said, "Jezus Christus?! I love Jezus Christus! And I love Mohammed, and I love Abraham and Jacob and..." And the list went on. Then the light turned green, so I said goodbye and took off-- Well, he followed me and pulled up next to me on his bike and started asking me why I don't wear a hoofdduk (the Muslim woman's head covering). I told him it wasn't part of my faith and he started telling me about how it should be. All of this is happening while a whole bunch of other bikers are starting to get upset because he is taking up the bike lane and not letting them pass. It was ridiculous. Eventually I ended up saying goodbye just before taking a turn to get away from him and he didn't follow. Boy, I'm definitely not going to miss experiences like that--although they do make for some good laughs.
Tuesday we had Zone Conference--we are now doing interviews and Zone Conference every month instead of every transfer. I had a bit of a freak out moment when the missionaries who are going home next week bore their testimonies-- I realized that I'll be in the next group-- Yikes! We talked about ways that we can work with the members better. It's so interesting to think about how missionary work happens in Utah compared with here in the Netherlands. Everything in Utah happens through the members, and when you need a joint teach you can basically knock on the neighbor's door and ask them to come along because they are probably a member of the church. Okay, I'm just kidding--I know it's not THAT easy-- but when you hear of missionaries in Utah getting 40 joint teaches a week and we feel really good if we get 9, then you just kind of realize how different missionary work is in different parts of the world. The BEST way for someone to come to a knowledge of the restored gospel really is through a friend. I've seen it time and time again on my mission. I hope that we are able to focus on that and help the members here to invite their friends to enjoy the wonderful fruit that they have been able to partake of.
Then we had exchanges and I went to Groningen to work with Zr. Sharp. This was my first day working outside of Den Haag Zone in my entire mission. It takes about 3 hours to get from Groningen to Den Haag in the train--good times. But, it was such a wonderful exchange! She is a fabulous missionary and I learned so much from her. We had a lot of fun together. She was also trained by Zr. Baxter and she has a deep love for the work. I really feel like the best times I've had on my mission were when me and my companion had a love for the work and a love for God that exceeded anything else--and Zr. Sharp and I were able to share in that for a couple of days. It was wonderful!
In coming back to Den Haag though, things have been a little rough. Most of our appointments were cancelled on us-- and usually at the last minute-- so we had a joint teach there and everything-- which is also rough on the joint teach because then they sometimes are less likely to come in the future because they just think it will get cancelled again--
But things with our baptismal dates are going well. Mary was actually in the hospital this week (turns out she has sickle cell anemia), so the Elders were able to go and give her a blessing. She came home yesterday. Her mom still came to church though and they are excited about baptism, however their date will probably have to be a little later so that Mary can recover from her hospital stay. Please pray for them!
Brigitte is doing really well and getting super connected with the ward. She has been going to exercise activities with the women of the ward and is loving every minute that she spends with people from the church.
We also had a really interesting conversation with Doralin today-- I talked with him on the phone to try to make an appointment for later this week and he told me he may want to get baptized on Saturday! What?! Well, we had to tell him that in order to be baptized, he can't be living with his girlfriend anymore--they either have to get married or he has to move out-- I'm not sure what's going to happen. He probably won't get baptized on Saturday-- but pray for him that he'll be able to make a decision soon and that he'll have the strength to do all he needs to.
Well, my time is almost up. I love you so much! Next week I'll let you know where I'll be for my last transfer...

Veel liefs,
Zuster Fowler

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It was good to talk to you.

From e-mail dated May 10, 2010.

It was good to talk to you all as well. It's crazy that it's all coming to an end so soon. One of the Elders here in Den Haag is also going home at the same time and we just keep freaking out, so we try not to talk about it too much. I didn't think of anything else that I need/want-- oh, wait! Yes! Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I've missed them. Just a few--I don't need a whole bag or anything--but it sounds really delicious right now. Let me know if there are any specific souvenirs you all want. I've already got something for everyone, but if there is anything you really want, just let me know and I'll do my best to get it for you. And the sooner you let me know, the better because I'm sure the last few P-days of my mission will be getting pretty full (members and investigators want to teach us how to cook or take us places or whatever--)
This has been a wonderful week of missionary work. At the beginning of the week we were excited because we had a full schedule-- and then so many people cancelled at the last minute that at the middle of the week we were wondering what was going on. But the end of the week was amazing! We set two new baptismal dates and had some wonderful appointments with our investigators.
Isatu is doing wonderfully. Her daughter Mary has also decided she wants to be baptized. They don't quite feel ready to be baptized on the 22, so they have moved their date to June, but they are excited to make that covenant with the Lord. We taught them this week about the 10 commandments, the law of chastity, obedience, and obeying the law. They loved it all! In talking with Isatu about the law of chastity she bore her testimony of how important it is to be faithful and how she wants her family to have all the blessings that God has in store for them.
We set a baptismal date with Brigitte this week. She is a member referral who has been to church 4 times now. She is AMAZING! She loves the gospel so much and has begun sharing it with her friends and family. We taught her about lesson three this week and also taught her husband for the first time. He is now interested in the church as well and he said he'd come to church yesterday-- but he didn't-- but hopefully he will come soon. She is planning on getting baptized on July 3.
Jordana is doing a lot better--life is still crazy, but I think she's got things a bit more under control. We had an appointment with her yesterday and talked about the temple. The spirit in the lesson was AMAZING! I think out of everything in the gospel, the temple is one of the things I love the most. I really hope that you are getting the chance to go often. I know you went a few weeks ago--keep it up! :)
I don't know if I mentioned that we passed Ranjeet on to the Elders and they started teaching him this week. He's doing well and he came to church on Sunday for the first time! (He's been coming to the Center for Young Adults, but getting him to come on Sunday has been hard because he's been in Amsterdam). It was great to see him there. We actually had 7 of our investigators in church yesterday! It was great!
We had an awesome experience yesterday in the park. We were finishing our consecrated hour and were unlocking our bikes when a man noticed us and started walking across the grass. He reached in his bag and pulled out one of our pass along cards. He asked if it was from us. We said it was. He said that his neighbor had put it in his mailbox and that his neighbor said that he had talked with us in the park. We remembered the neighbor—we had talked to him only a few days before and he was Muslim and we had asked him if he knew anyone who would be interested in our message and he said that his neighbor would be and asked if he could take a card to put it in his mailbox. The man said he had been wanting to call us and thought it was such a coincidence that he saw us in the park and that he wants to make an appointment so that we can come talk to him sometime. He didn't have his schedule by him, but we now have his number and will hopefully have an appointment sometime soon!
So, one thing that really confuses me about people is how God can so blatantly play a hand in their lives and they can still refuse to take the bait. There's a girl that Zr. Robbins and I found in our 3rd week together. We tried to get her to the JoVo Centrum and to set up appointments, but nothing just ever worked out. Well, the Elders contacted into her a couple of weeks ago--two days in a row--and got her information and gave it to us (she had a new phone number) and the other Elders contacted her the day after that, so we called her up and had an appointment last week. Well, she said she wanted to meet again, but that she didn't know her work schedule, so we were supposed to call her and get a new appointment-- but she never answered her phone... Well, Wednesday we were in a completely other part of town for an appointment, but the woman wasn't at home, so we decided to knock on the doors there so that we could see if anyone would be interested--and who happens to be behind the first door we knock? Her! She was there babysitting--coincidence? I think not. We set up an appointment for Thursday, but she wasn't home. And she didn't answer her phone. The Elders ran into her again yesterday. The Lord has put missionaries so many times into her life-- but she's just not willing to make the effort to take the blessing he wants to give her. Bah! That's one thing that I just don't get! But, agency is a big part of God's plan and she has to use that to take what He is trying to give her.
...I love the gospel so much! I was studying this morning on the Book of Mormon and read about Alma and Amulek's experiences with Zeezrom. Something that really struck me is how merciful God is. Even after all that Zeezrom had done, he was still forgiven of all he had done in the end. It really made me think about the wonderful message we share of repentance and being able to truly apply the atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ in our lives. The atonement truly is the saving power to everyone who will partake—it is for EVERYONE, they just have to choose to accept it—and I have the wonderful opportunity to go out every day and share it. I love it!
I love you all with all my heart. Kids, you don't have too much longer to redeem yourselves for not writing often :) Just kidding. But seriously, I'd love to hear from you all at least one more time before I come home. I love you!
Zuster Fowler

Monday, May 3, 2010

Finding and teaching.

From e-mail dated May 3, 2010.

...The weather these last couple of days has been so cold! Earlier this week it was super warm and I was LOVING it! But it has been pretty much constantly raining since Friday. It makes for some very soggy missionaries (especially when your appointments cancel at the last minute--) but it's a good time.
Friday was Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) which is a big national holiday. So, what do they decide to do on their day off? Everyone sets up tables out on the streets and tries to sell their junk to the passerby's so they can buy someone else's junk. It's the only day of the year that people are allowed to have a yardsale. It's crazy. And everyone is drunk-- so we basically avoid the center of the city and try to be in appointments most of the day. Thursday night we had an appointment in Koningstraat (King Street) and didn't realize that the festivities started the night before there-- so we were in the midst of it-- but came away without any problems.
We expected a good number of our investigators to set baptismal dates this week-- and they are feeling good about baptism, but just don't feel ready to set a date (and we gave one of our baptismal dates to the Elders because we felt like they would be a better match for him). But it has been a good week. We've worked hard and seen some wonderful things happen.
We had a really cool experience with prayer this week as well. We were in a consecrated hour and we had picked out a park the night before. We went to the park and even though it was a BEAUTIFUL day, nobody was there! We were walking around and couldn't find anyone, so we decided to pray. We prayed that God would place the people in our path with whom He wanted us to speak. Well, as soon as we were done with our prayer, a woman rode past on her bike and turned around and stopped to ask if we were lost and needed directions. We ended up being able to talk to her about the gospel. She knew members of the church a long time ago, but the members had moved back to Germany. She wasn't super interested in the church, but it was amazing how Heavenly Father placed someone there right after we had prayed. We then turned around to see a young many playing with his dog—we went and had a great talk with him about the Restoration that lasted the rest of the hour. He took a card and was going to talk with his girlfriend to see if we could come share more, but when we called he said they weren't interested. But the point of the story is that our Heavenly Father answered our prayer. And even though neither of the people ended up becoming new investigators, I know that we were there to talk with them for a reason. It was a neat experience.
I got to see Kim and Joyce on Monday when we went to Keukenhof--so that was super cool! I'll try to add some pictures.
Things are going well with Zr. Reber. She's getting a better hand on the language... Yesterday we went finding in a park in the rain and a couple of members came with us so we split up. I think that was really good for her to be forced to take the lead in a way. They met a man in the park who said he knew God loved him because just a few minutes before he had been praying that God would help him and then he met them... I'm really grateful for the role I feel that Heavenly Father plays in my life. I know He is there and as long as I am doing my best and constantly trying to listen for if the spirit tells me something that I will be guided to help those who need me.
Things with our investigators are going well. We have asked the Elders to start teaching Ranjeet--we think he'll be able to relate with them better.
Isatu is doing well. We taught her about the gospel of Jesus Christ this week, and it was great! Her biggest desire is to follow Christ. She said that she wants to do everything she can to return to live with her Heavenly Father. She is a wonderful woman with a strong spirit. She's still talking with her uncle to see if they will get baptized on the 22 or on another date, but they will definitely be getting baptized soon.
Brigitte is great! She also has such a desire to follow Christ. I love it! We taught her the plan of Salvation this week and she said, "I love it! I'm so happy. I know this is God's plan." She would get baptized next week if she could, but she can only meet once a week... so it is going to take a little while to be able to get her completely prepared.
Yvonne and Quincy are doing well. Quincy is going to a camp with the Young Adults here this week. It should be an amazing experience for him. Hopefully they receive a confirmation soon that this is the right thing. Please pray for them, and for Kiko (the younger brother) and Ronald (the Father who doesn't believe in God at all). It would be so wonderful to see them as a family in the temple!
Well, I'm going to go so that I can get some photos on here. I'll talk to you Sunday. Love you lots!
Zuster Fowler