Tuesday, December 18, 2012

8 Days and Counting

Oh, just so you all know, my mailing address here in Dordrecht is:

Zuster Becky Hinchcliff
Gemeenlandskade 12

3343 NB Hendrik Ido Ambacht


Missionary work here is moving along...haha Zuster Raun and I are still trying to get the hang of things, but we don't get lost as frequently and generally aren't too late places....That said, we did have an experience last week where we went to a member's house for dinner and were perfectly on time for dinner, were there exactly long enough, and left in what we thought was perfect time to catch the bus at 8. We were told it was too far to bike to the doorpje so we depended on public transport to get us there and were depending on it to get us home. However, it turns out the bus runs later in the evenings and following bus wasn't going to come around until 8:42. It was cold and we didn't want to wait around for the bus so we decided just to walk from bus stop to bus stop until it came so we could at least stay warm. Well, that backfired when we missed the bus between stops...We ended up walking 3 hours to get home haha good companion bonding time I guess. Some other funny things that happened this week were when we went Christmas caroling and literally everyone minus 2 people said no thank you (who says that to Christmas carolers?!) and the 2nd person who did let us sing ended up recording us to post on facebook or something...I think he thought we were funny. It's better, however, than all the people at the Kerst Markt (Christmas Market) who shot us down for trying to share a message about Christ...It's His holiday for goodness sakes! Oh man, what's wrong with people?!
Luckily we do have little miracles mixed in with all this craziness to remind us of the rewarding part of missionary work. Like the woman who showed up to our ZHV (RS) Christmas party and set-up an appointment to meet with us this week, the former investigator we ran into on the outskirts of the Kerst Markt who is going to take another look into the gospel of Jesus Christ, the investigator who is so set on getting baptized this week that he's willing to get baptized at an absurd time of the day even if hardly anyone is present and another investigator who is so set on getting baptized by his date in January that he and his girlfriend are holding a small, quick, and quiet wedding ceremony without many friends or family at the end of this month, and the Christmas Musical Concert put on by our stake featuring a few professional violin and piano players that we got to participate in as missionaries. Also, my companion is amazing. Not only does she have a great sense of humor and is patient with all my many blunders, but she is a total sweet-heart, diligent, and she speaks astounding Dutch! Especially considering that she's only been here for what a week or two? Amazing.
It's good to hear about things at home. Sounds like Dad, KJ, and Nicky had some great performances, I'm excited to have a personal performance when I come home (and yes I am planning on it :) ). Oh, speaking of coming home, I just got my official release date today, my mission has been extended til...drum roll please! July 24th 2013! Haha can you believe it?! I am still trying to figure out if they purposefully planned it on my birthday or not. But hopefully you and Dad are in fact able to pick me up because that means that on my birthday I'll get to see you! What a great gift!
Well, I got to go, but I'll SEE you next week!!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Time - Nov. 26th

Christmas Time

Good news, Pepe isn't lost! He wasn't able to come to church last Sunday because his son was with him and is against the church. But, he has switched which days he has his son so that he can come to church on Sundays and was there yesterday. We have taught him the Restoration so far and tonight we'll teach the Plan of Salvation! He's still praying to know the truth, but to be honest I think he's already got his answer and is looking for further verification. I'm cool with that, I know as long as he remains sincere he'll find it. Last week we set up a baptismal date with him for December 23, Merry Christmas! Yesterday at church he met a few of our ward leaders and they all like him and had positive interactions and impressions. Tonight we have a joint teach to Pepe with the elder's quorom president and his mother. Our ward continues to be increasingly supportive of us and the work. It feels good to be working in unity with them. Not going to lie, I'm a bit nervous for transfers next week, to find out what the Lord has planned next...I'm hoping it involves me getting to continue the work here in Antwerpen, but if not I know they'll be left in good hands and I'll be where I'm needed.
Speaking of which, I'm considering extending my mission from July to August. I don't know the policy or rules or wat dan ook daarover, maar ik wil heel graag een zendeling blijven als lang mogelijk. I feel good about staying, but we'll see what President Robinson says. I know whatever is decided will be what the Lord wills.
As far as how other things this week have gone, remember that young family we found on the street from our bishop? Yeah, the wife didn't want it :/ we were pretty heartbroken. Like on the verge of tears. So we talked to literally every person on the street we saw after that convinced that we'd find someone who needed us in that area at that time. We ended up talking with a professor of religion whose students are interested in learning more about our church! He asked us if he could give our information to them so those who wanted to could meet up with us. Uhh, 'turlijk! He told us it would be purely for scholastic reasons and they would not be looking to be converted. We told him we are more than happy to answer their questions and so he accepted our information. We really hope some of them call, even if they aren't looking for "conversion" there's no way to share a testimony of the truth with someone and not have the spirit present. Hopefully one of them will be touched.
Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving with a family in our ward, the Sherlocks, and tracted in their little village. Turns out that there has never been investigators in their village besides one woman whose friend introduced her to the gospel and was baptized a few years ago. We have absolutely no other records of people being taught in this town! Zuster Jones and I are trying to work with the members who live in the small villages such as this one that have never really had any tracting or a strong missionary presence to introduce more people to the gospel. It means traveling more outside the city for us, but hey, if that's where the families are, that's where I want to be. As far as our Thanksgiving celebration went, we had a lot of fun and ate some delicious food. Zuster Sherlock bought turkey and we had as many traditional Thanksgiving dishes as we could including greenbean casserole, sweet potatoe pie, and pumpkin pie, mmm! The Sherlock family is my little British-Dutch family here in Antwerpen and I love them a lot! Jessica and David, the two teenagers remind me a lot of Mary and KJ, it's nice to be around family for the holidays :) (Side-note for mom, Zuster Sherlock posted our Thanksgiving pictures to facebook, you should friend her! Ingrid Sherlock is her name and her email is ingrid@sherlocktribe.co.uk ).
Mom, I really liked what you said in your email last week about developing a faith that is based on more than convience or the moment. This weekend I've had a few conversations with people about faith and what it takes to develop an enduring faith that is evident in our convictions and works. Thank you so much for your example.
Hey, guess what?! Thanksgiving is done and it's official the Christmas season now! Well, at least I know it is in America. Haha people here celebrate Sinterklaas before Christmas, so there aren't too many Christmas decorations up yet, but I'm told that after next week things get more decorative...we'll see ;) I love you all a lot and am excited to hear about your service experiences this Christmas. One of my favorite family traditions is service whether through a gift drop, caroling, doing stuff for a secret person, or delivering cookies. Whoever has my name this year can serve me by doing some missionary work and letting me know how it goes! You all are great and I am glad for you support!

Love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love, Zuster Becky Hinchcliff

PS Mom, don't forget to post my pictures and emails on the blog! Thanks :)

Thanksgiving-Nov. 19


Hey Family!

This last week was super fantastic! We taught the two new investigators who showed up to church and the lessons went really well. One, Ludo, was really only interested in the Book of Mormon, he's an intelluctual and a philanthropist, but thinks we're really nice and invited us back anytime. We're going to give him a few weeks to read and then call and see what he thought. In the meantime we're praying that he recognizes the truth. The other man, Pepe, is GOLDEN and the joint-teach we brought thinks he could be baptized before the year is through. Unfortunately he wasn't at church Sunday and we haven't been able to contact him since Saturday...hopefully we haven't lost him. It would be heart-breaking if we did though because he is truly golden and by our first lesson was already to 2 Nephi and was praying to know if the Book of Mormon is true. Hopefully he just keeps missing our calls and is out of beltegoed (a lot of people here pre-pay their phone credit for the month and once their up their up)...still doesn't explain his absence at church.
This week we had sister exchanges and mine was super great! Zuster Larsen and I saw a lot of miracles together, including a lesson with a part-member family Zuster Jones and I have been working with for a while that was charged with the spirit. It was seriously like a force field. Zuster Larsen is a really good example of humility and someone who completely puts her trust in the Lord. She is also a great example of talking to everyone. I love that girl :)
Our ward has been pretty involved with missionary work this week too and that's amazing! This last week we've only had member presences and we've got a few appointments set-up for more! Antwerpen is great :)
Some other quick great things this week:
-We got another new investigator at church this week! She just walked in with a friend, not knowing anything about the church. We have an appointment this week :)
-We found our family on one of the streets Bishop Staepels gave us! Our first appointment with them is this week! They are a young Belgian couple married in the church with two kids, doesn't get much better!
-Today for P-day we played American football with the elders in our zone. Haha since the elders aren't actually allowed to touch us they split Zuster Jones and I up on a seperate teams. We both got in a couple touchdowns and I got in some really great tackles, felt good ;)
At the end of a week like this past one I've got to say, I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!! And what's even better is that this upcoming week is pretty promising looking too! Oh, by the way, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! One of the family's in our ward is throwing a Thanksgiving feast for us and the elders and we're going to teach them what Thanksgiving is all about. It's pretty simple, giving thanks, but since it's an American holiday they're excited to do it with us.
Looking back a year ago at Thanksgiving honestly feels like a life-time ago. I've learned (and hopefully improved) so much since that point. Some things I'm grateful for this year are:
-The opportunity to really dedicate my life to the Lord. My relationship with Him and understanding of His plan has strengthed so much in the past year, I plan on it being a constant strengthening my whole life.
-I can speak a second language! Crazy! Haha I may not be perfectly fluent, but it's definitely an accomplishment that would never have occured for me without the call from our Heavenly Father to serve a mission here and the help of His spirit.
-You all give me so much support and love and it's really up-building. With all the miracles I've seen out here, I've seen a lot of difficulties as well, but feeling of your love and support has really helped me to keep an eternal perspective and focus on the positive.
-Church leaders.
-The chance to make covenants with the Lord. I am really grateful for the ones I've made for Him and the strenthen I find therein.
-Inspiraton from the Spirit. It is an amazing feeling to learn something through personal revelation for myself, my companionship, and my investigators. It's something I treasure.
-A more sure testimony that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I've come to really rely on His atoning sacrifice a lot this last year for myself and others, and it's really made a difference in my level of happiness, confidence, and gratitude. I know that my Savior loves me and that He knows who I am. I know that He wants me to return home to Him and our Father and that they are rooting for us and supporting us here on earth so we will be successful in our time here. God is busy with the details of our life and I've really come to see that this past year in my life and the lives of those I've met here in Belgium and the Netherlands.
-Serving a mission is a truly wonderful experience. It is probably the best thing I've ever done with my life and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my Lord. This experience is setting a great pattern for the rest of my life.

There are probably close to a billion other things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving season, but these are the ones that most immediately come to mind.
One last thought before I go. Yesterday I was sitting in sacrament meeting and as one of our stake leaders was speaking I had the thought, "If Christ was on the earth as a missionary in my place, what would He do?" With this question I was able to do a lot of self-reflection and self-evalution to see if I was really representing my Savior well as a bearer of His name. Not everyone may be a set-apart missionary literally wearing his name, but as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have all covenanted to take His name upon ourselves. This holiday season I am going to do my best to be more aware of those around me so I can better know how to serve them as the Savior would and bring a little more happiness and love into this part of the world, as I know He would do if He were here in my place. It is a wonderful honor to be His representative.

I love you all and miss you as the holidays roll in, but I know I am in the right place doing the right thing. I hope you all have a great week and that you enjoy the feelings of this holiday season, the feelings of Christ. From the sounds of it though, you all are off to a great start with new primary callings, uplifting the "problem" kids at school so the have the self-confidence to work out of their problems, helping people move in, and committing to be more aware of how you can be better examples of Christians despite the influence of the world. You guys are great!

Love, Zuster Becky Hinchcliff

The Antwerpen Hand - Oct. 29

The Antwerpen Hand

Ok so here's the story according to my understanding of the Antwerpen hand. Haha you can probably check it out online for the full verhaal. So once upon a time a long time ago there was this mean scary guy going around cutting off people's hand and throwing them into the river to show everyone he was bigger and stronger as a way of asserting power. People everywhere were terrified but someone somewhere got tired of living in fear. The next time the mean scary guy came through town, this someone (or a group of someones) cut off his hand and threw it in the river, ending his reign of terror. The town was named after this occasion. 'Ant' is the colloquial shortening of the word 'hand' meaning hand and 'werpen' is the infinitive form of the verb throw. Thus, Antwerpen. The End :) 
Haha people here are very proud of that story and have a lot of giant hand statues around the city, symbols of hands in architecture, and they even sell chocolate hands in just about every chocolate shop. I think it's cool for that they take pride in their history. 

Yesterday at church we had a great sacrament meeting. One talk was over how we all need a purpose in life and we can find that purpose in our families. The other was over family history and the importance of looking for our ancestors to do their temple work. This was pretty significant considering that at the start of the meeting the first counselor in the bishopric read a letter from the First Presidency over family history work. I know we would all benefit from taking more pride in our family history, maybe not to statue-building, chocolate-making extent of the Belgians in Antwerpen haha but definitley to the extent that we are doing something to knit our hearts in unity and love with our fore-father. I know that as we take more pride in this we can fulfill Elijah's prophecy of the hearts of fathers and children turning towards each other (Malachi 4:5-6). I hope that we can all find purpose in our lives by serving our family members, those with us here in this realm of our existance and those who have gone ahead to the next.

Love you all, have a great week and do some family history for me!!

Love, Zuster Becky Hinchcliff

November 12

It's a Girl!!

So you remember my friend Sara right (she was baptized in September)? Well, she just had a baby early in the morning November 11! Haha Zuster Jones and I were/still are super excited about little Sam. In the past several months we've been through a lot together with Sara and now we feel as if Sam is our own. Ok, maybe not our own own, but definitely like a niece. All day Sunday we were walking on air we were so excited to meet her, and finally after a reeeaaalllyyy long correlation meeting at church we had time to go to the hospital to meet her!! On our way we called President Robinson to let him know we were tantes and to ask permission to hold our niece, he said yes!! Best day of my life. That little girl is straight from heaven and I got to hold her in my arms. I'll be sending pictures soon.
In addition to this most glorious event, our Sunday meetings themselves were fantastic! Not only were all the teachers and speakers incredibly inspired, but we had two new investigators roll up into sacrament meeting! 
Ludo is an older Belgian man who called the church Friday afternoon asking for a copy of the Book of Mormon. He said he'd been trying to find one everywhere and desperately wanted one. We let him know we could help him with that :) After getting his address and telephone number we invited him to church and he came! We now have an appointment for Tuesday afternoon. It's a miracle too that we were at the church for that phone call. We had just finished having a zone training at the church and Zuster Jones and I were the last ones in the building locking everything up when the phone rang. That's some divine planning. 
The other man in church Sunday is Pepe. He's from Spain but has been living here for a while because he speaks some awesome Dutch. We met him and his son a few days ago at a tram halte. His son saw our nametags and asked if we were Jehovah's Witnesses. NO! People need to stop thinking that. We kindly let him know we were missionaries from another church (in fact the church with a fullness of the truth restored to the earth) and started up a conversation. A few sentences into it Pepe joined and before we got off the tram he had a Book of Mormon in hand. After sacrament meeting Sunday he set-up an appointment with us for Thursday and said that he had some friends that needed to hear our message so they'd be there too. Sounds good to me! 
And that was all just yesterday! This last week has been incredible, we've been seeing some miracles here in Antwerpen! 
I love being a missionary.

Love, Zuster Becky Hinchcliff

Even more pictures

First- giant nest 
Second- me inside giant nest
Third- Castle chilling on the side of the street in Antwerpen. Cool huh :)
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More Pictures

First- big church in Antwerpen. They have lots of beautiful churches here, but no one really goes to them anymore except for tourist...sad
Second- This is us with Sara, our friend who was baptized beginning of Sept. I don't think pictures are supposed to be taken in front of the baptismal font, so you probably shouldn't share this one.
Third- trio!
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PHOTOS! - Oct. 29th

The first is of my with a giant Antwerpen hand in central train station
The second is with the A for Antwerpen in central train station
The third is of a man throwing the cut off hand Antwerpen is named for
The last is a street in Antwerpen. I take a lot of pictures of buildings because I think the architecture is beautiful but I figure you would get bored of looking at a bunch of buildings so instead I decided to send you just one picture with several included.
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The Best Week of My Life- Oct. 22

Echt waar! This last week has been so amazing, full of inspiration and miracles.
Monday we went to Brugge with some other missionaries for P-day where we ran into some members of the church from America, a kid Zr. Jones met last week on the train who not only recognized her but was so excited to see her that before she could stop him he ran over and gave her a huge hug haha, and one of the senior couples in our mission who ended up taking all of us out for fresh waffles, mmmm! 
Tuesday we had a lot of really great Atonement focused lessons and we made contact with a friend we haven't seen or heard from in weeks! We set an appointment right then :) Haha also another man hugged my companion...
Wednesday was our temple conference so we woke up early to head to the Den Haag Temple. There we met up with all the missionaries from the Antwerpen and Appledorn Zones and all the senior couples for a session and afterwards we traveled to Leiden for a zone conference and lunch. The temple was so beautiful and being there with so many missionaries was so wonderful. Zr Jones and I are the only sisters two sisters in both zones so it was really cool to be there with so many priesthood holders. Awesome actually. At our zone conference we heard several "closing testimonies" of a group of elders that are leaving this week that I have been privileged to work with. I'm going to miss those ones. Also, I got a package in the form of a bottle, clever :) Haha the elders were so excited for me and suggested I send it back filled with Dutch goodies, like a message in a bottle type deal. Haha we'll see, but keep your eyes open ;) Oh and so you know Mom, the goodies you sent were DELICIOUS! Thanks :) There's a lot that could be said about this day, but basically it was fun, spirit-filled, and just what I needed.
Thursday we got two new investigators, had a great appointment with a less-active family who committed to come to institute and seminary this week, where able to be an answer to someone's prayer when another appointment fell through, and a member took us out for Chinese food! I ate a duck, yum!
Friday we had a great appointment with some friends over how to recognize the spirit after which they told us they could feel it, a little girl told me I was her best friend :), our weekly planning took forever because we have so many friends and lessons to plan for, and we had a really great lesson with a family over how we are all children of God. 
Saturday everything went through and ran smoothly. We were able to make  all our appointments, do some service, and go to the Saturday session of stake conference where President and Zuster Robinson gave amazing talks, both in Dutch! I was blown away by how well they did and the spirit they brought. 
and...Sunday was Stake Conference in Brussels so not only did we get some awesome spiritual nourishment from our stake, but we also got to see a beautiful new city! Also, someone one else told us we were an answer to their prayer and after meeting members of our ward and seeing us interact with our stake, President Robinson told us that this next transfer Zr. Jones and I get to  stay companions here in Antwerpen!! I am so excited! Not only is this the longest I'll have been with one companion, but I LOVE Antwerpen and was afraid I was on my way out, thank goodness I'm not!

I don't know, maybe this week doesn't seem particularly special to anyone else, but for me, it was super spirit-filled and to quote one of our spanish members, "amathing." I really felt like I was improving the lives of those I interacted with which is an incredible feeling. I love being a missionary and am really grateful for the experiences the Lord provides that allow me to build up others and in the process be built up myself. I know that I am doing the Lord's work and that He is involved in the details. I love you all and am grateful for what you do to build me up, the emails, letters, and packages you send; the prayers you say; and the work you do to build up and share your testimonies. Yesterday at stake conference one of the speakers quoted Moroni 7:27, 37: 

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have amiracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to bclaim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?...Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that amiracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of bunbelief, and all is vain."

After reading this he used examples from the scriptures and his own life to show how faith is a principle of action and that as we exercise our faith we can assist the Lord in bringing about miracles. I would like to add my testimony to that I know that miracles continue, I see them everyday. I know as you all excercise your faith, you'll see them too :)

I love you all!!! Have an amathing week!

Love, Zuster Becky Hinchcliff

Monday, October 15, 2012

Only on a mission, Oct. 15th, 2012


Haha so I have had a pretty fantastic/crazy week filled with experiences that I think are only possible on a mission. One of those experiences happened as a result of the inspired referral from a member. Her friend was not interested in the Gospel, but the referral got us to a BEAUTIFUL neighborhood we'd never seen before. We began knocking doors, but either no one was home or no one was interested. Jammer. It was about time for us to head to another part of the city, but Zuster Jones was inspired for us to walk another way. We turned the corner and found another really beautiful street and decided to knock a few more doors. The first few didn't answer, and in a bit of a pleading/exasperated voice my companion said, "Heavenly Father please let someone open a door so we can at least see inside one of these beautiful homes," to which I half jokingly added, "and maybe we could even get a tour!" We knocked a few more doors and nothing. Then, I turned around and noticed a door we had skipped over. I felt like it was important to knock there and not only did the door open, but the first words out of the woman's mouth were, "Kom maar binnen." That never happens! People don't just invite strangers into their homes, at least, not on my mission! We naturrlijk accepted her invitation and ended up getting to have tea and chocolate with her and her adorable 90 year old husband while we heard some stories from their lives (turns out he was a legit Nazi...thank goodness for the Atonement!) and taught the Plan of Salvation. As we were getting up to leave they not only invited us back, but offered us a tour the next time!! Does Heavenly Father answer prayers or what?! Also, these two have three married children all with little families of their own, we're really hoping and praying we're able to be able to teach all of them! 
Some other fantastic/crazy things that happened this week are:
-Eating rabbit (a typical Belgian dish) and FuFu, fried plantains, and yams (typical Ghanian dishes) 
-Had a friend go to the hospital and in an hour needed to coordinate how to get her daughter home from school and get her some help. Everything ended up well and although she wasn't able to walk, our friend has since been miraculously healed through her faith and prayers and the faith and prayers of others.
-Sister exchanges, I went to Zoetemeer (a small doorpje in Nederland where the Den Haag temple is) for a day and got to work with Zuster Omozokpia! She's a fantastic greenie who's being trained by one of my MTC companions and we had a great time together. I learned a lot from her in the 24 hours we were together and am super grateful for her humble, faithful, and fearless example. 

Other cool stuff too, but I gotta run and catch a train now to Brugge!!!

Love you all!!! 

Zuster Becky Hinchcliff