Your poem was probably just about one of the best poems I've ever read,
thank you!! My birthday turned out to be really fantastic! My wonderful
companion, Zuster Stout, made me a Christmas breakfast of pumpkin
pancakes with apple-cider syrup! Can you believe that?! I don't know
how she did it, but it was delicious!! At district meeting we sang "Angels
we have Heard on High," and I got to pass out my poems to everyone...
I thought they were pretty clever, but I can't speak for those who received
them. My trainer, Zuster Moses was there and she and her companion,
Zuster Palenikova, gave me a Christmas card and chocolate :) For lunch
we ate toasties (grilled cheese sandwiches), one of the APs made mine
for me as a gift, and then they all sang me the Dutch verjardag leidje
(birthday song) which is just about the most exciting birthday song in the
world. I should know because after that they sang me birthday songs
from about 6 other countries and not a single one even measured up
to it :) On our way back to Haarlem from district meeting (we meet in
Amsterdam) we stopped by burger king for ice-cream (Dutch ice-
cream tastes weird and BK is closer to American). Once in Haarlem we
hopped on another train for Hillegom, the cutest little doorpje (village) in
Holland where we had a GOLDEN appointment with our baptismal date.
Then we hopped on another train back to Haarlem and made it to our
next appointment just in time! It was a dinner appointment with the
bishop's family, Familie Scholten. And guess what they did for me?!
They got me a birthday/Christmas present, we barbequed (interpreted
grilled :)) on the roof (!), and Zuster Scholten made me a carrot cake,
my favorite!! Mom, you would really like Zr. Scholten, she has been
my Dutch mama since I've been in Haarlem and has helped me
through a lot. I think the two of you would be great friends. After a
magical evening with Familie Scholten, Zr. Stout and I booked it to
the church where we had another GOLDEN appointment with another
investigator we've been teaching for a while. When we got home that
night I had three letters waiting in the mail for Amy Moffat, Johnathon
McCormick, and (Zr.) Caitlyn Jeffs!! Needless to say, I had a
FANTASTIC birthday! I definitely will not forget it :)
And what's even better than my birthday was my week! We had a lot
of really amazing lessons with investigators, members, and strangers
on the street, we got two new investigators (!), the sun was shining
and some days were even hot, and, best of all, Madina was baptized
and confirmed a member of De Kerk van Jezus Christus van de
Heligen der Laaste Dagen (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints)!! I don't know if I've told you all very much about Madina, but
she is amazing to say the least. She is a woman very near and dear
to my heart. Our meeting was miraculous and she invited us over to
teach her on the spot. After following the lessons and keeping each
commitment happily and fully (each time we introduced a new
commandment she said, "This is how I know God loves me,") she was
baptized 28 Juli, exactly two months from the day we met her. Madina's
whole story of how she found the gospel is wonderful and I wish I could
be more descriptive, but her conversion is really involved and so I'll save
that for a post-mission story :) Madina is an example of courage, faith,
and persistence. She has been guided to the gospel and is the source
of much guidance for others, myself included. I love her a lot!!
A little while ago we were at our bishop's house and Zr. Scholten said
something really poignant: as missionaries we are not sent to places,
but to people. I know that to be true with all my heart. And that actually
leads me into my next bit of news, I am being transferred to Antwerpen,
in Belgium! Ahh! I am a little bit nervous but also excited. I have been
in Haarlem now for just about six months and love the people here a lot.
I am sad to leave them, but know that the Lord is leading me to the
people who need me now. I will be serving in another tri-panionship,
with Zuster Jones and Herring. Zuster Jones and I were at the MTC
together and I have been wanting to serve with her since I met her.
Zuster Herring and I lived in Helaman Halls together my first year at
BYU and as soon as I got my mission call I wanted to serve with her
(she's been here about 8 months longer). Thus, dreams fulfilled!!! As
far as leaving people behind goes, I treasure my relationships and
memories with them and am going to trust them over to the Lord and
I know He will take care of them (Alma 19:23, Helaman 5:8, and D&C
63:48). So now the only thing I'm worried about is the language...
people in Belgium speak with a WAY different accent than people in
Haarlem (Haarlemers are said to speak the purest form of Dutch)
so I am not sure if I will understand anyone/if they will understand me.
Well, here goes!!
I love you all very much!! Thank you for the birthday wishes and for
celebrating my birth even though I wasn't there :) Bush Gardens,
Christmas stores, and upside-down cupcakes, you guys are the greatest!!
Oh, before I sign out, some funny things that happened this week:
-We saw two little kids (eight and ten) hop the gate at the church.
Since we have a key, we went in, they ran into the bushes and walked
over and asked them (in Dutch) what they were up to/if we could help
them out with anything. Their reply? "We're sorry, we don't speak
English," ...guess my Dutch isn't as good as I thought...haha :)
-Upon hearing it was my birthday, a man turned to my companion and
congratulated her for knowing me :)
-At the baptism a little boy began walking around offering chips to
everyone during a talk. He then walked over to the speaker on the stan
d and asked him if he would also like some chips. The man declined.
-Whilst hurrying to get to a dinner appointment/trying not to pee myself
I texted this, "Our investigator called god and she can come after alk...
is dat lastig voor uw vrouw?" I was horrified once I realized what I sent
and almost peed myself anyways laughing.
-In front of an investigator a member compared missionary work to
stalking...luckily that investigator wasn't too horrified...
So as I'm sure you're well aware, tomorrow is my birthday!! Gefeliciteerd
everyone!! Turns out in Nederland when it is someone's birthday the whole
family and close friends are congratulated as well :) Isn't that great?! To
best celebrate my birthday I have decided to host a Christmas in July of
sorts complete with Christmas music and gifts for my district (tomorrow we
have district meeting). By gifts I mean two line poems I wrote for each
person on papers in the shape of stockings/gifts/trees. Why Christmas in
July? For several reasons 1) I love Christmas 2) I love the feelings surro-
unding the holiday season, everyone is so warm and friendly and service-y
and it feels good! 3) I don't want a lot of attention and focus on me for my
birthday so I want to give/share it with others and 4) In 2 Nephi 25:26 it
says, "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies..." and as missionaries that is some-
thing we do everyday, but for many people it comes and goes with religious
holidays so I decided to bring a taste of Christmas a little early to remind
them :) With members the past week we have been sharing Christmas songs
and this scripture. Some love it, some think it's cheesy, but either way
testifying of Christ and remembering Him brings in the spirit with is a warm,
After district meeting we have an appointment with an investigator who, if all
goes well, will be baptized on Saturday!! Following that appointment the
bishop's family is making me a birthday dinner!! And then we have another
appointment with a really good friend who hopefully will have a baptismal
date soon. Exciting day planned!! I hope you all take time to celebrate
Christmas/Pioneer Day/my birthday. I think a great way to celebrate all three
will be with a candy-cane and a service activity and then even more people
would have an exciting and fantastic day!
This week has been pretty full and fast. Actually, I feel like the days are long
and packed but the week still somehow manages to zoom by. Next Sunday
we'll find out about transfers and I have a feeling I will be leaving the beautiful
staad van Haarlem. Thus, to prepare I do not want to leave a single stone
unturned (figuratively of course) which means we are keeping anxiously
engaged. But while staying busy I am trying really hard to enjoy myself and
not get stressed. While reading in Alma 17 I found comfort/support in verses
nine through eleven:
9 And it came to pass that they journeyed many days in the wilderness, and
they fasted much and aprayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a
portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be
an binstrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren,
the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth, to the knowledge of the baseness
of the ctraditions of their fathers, which were not correct. 10 And it came to pass that the Lord did avisit them with his bSpirit, and said
unto them: Be ccomforted. And they were comforted. 11 And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy
brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be apatient in long-suffering
and afflictions, that ye may show forth good bexamples unto them in me,
and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many
Ammon and his brethren had good desires, but they needed to practice
patience and be comforted. I inturpretted (sp?) this for myself as don't stress
and things will come good. So far I think I am doing pretty good at this, but
practice makes perfect :) I am praying for you all and love you dearly.
Love, Zuster Becky Hinchcliff
Can you believe I've already been out for what 7 months?! I can't, I still feel like a greenie in the land, but turns out I'm now in the middle of my mission. I trying really hard to make sure I keep progressing and don't plataue...not going to lie sometimes it's a struggle. But I figure if I'm struggling then at least something is happening right? '
Today my companion asked what I would do if I was given a billion dollars and had to spend it all in one day. After paying tithing my first course of action would be to buy you a private jet plane with a pilot and enough gasoline to last a life-time so you can fly whenever you want to California to be with Melanie. Helelaas...someone has yet to give me a billion dollars...still waiting...But you are definitely right about the Plan of Happiness, it is definitely for us now. Sometimes as a missionary I don't feel like anything I do is really all that significant for anyone else.I feel like rather than bring other's closer to Christ, I'm the one learning and growing the most. I feel a bit selfish sometimes/frustrated because I came on a mission for others, not myself. But I know that as long as I can give an honest accounting to the Lord at the end of the day that I've done my best to serve His children then my efforts are wasted on myself. I really like that verse you shared with me in Genesis 18:14, "Is any thing too ahardfor the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the btime of life, and Sarah shall have a son." I especially like the verse a few chapters later when Sarah reacts to the Lord's timing, "And Sarah said, God hath made me to alaugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me." Even though life doesn't go how we plan, I am grateful for the Plan of Happiness and that even though we have hard times, we can still laugh now. I love you Mom!! Thank you for your spiritual insights, I learn so much from your example each week.
I hope you all at home are doing well!! Zuster Stout and I have had quite the eventful week...on Wednesday her bike was stolen, that slowed down our schedule a bit. Thursday my bike had a flat tire, so we couldn't even achter op (that's when one sister bikes while the other sits on the luggage rack on the back) and were forced to take public transportation and walk. Friday we fixed my bike and achter op-ed to the bishop's house for dinner where he was waiting with a beautiful bike for Zuster Stout to use!! Miracle. Saturday we biked for an hour-and-a-half through the rain to an appointment in a small doorpje (village/town) south of Haarlem, and later that evening had an unpleasant encounter with some pathetic fellows with foul habits and comments. Sunday I gave a talk in Dutch without any tears, victory! I was nog steeds (still) nervous, but het kwam goed :) (it ended well). I wrote it in Dutch so I wouldn't have to worry about translating it later (something that made my first talk more stressful)
I finished reading the book "Daughters in my Kingdom" (the Relief Society
book) today. I have come to have a greater and deeper appreciation for
the Relief Society as a result of reading this book. It motivates me to be a
better companion, daughter, sister, visiting teacher; basically, it motivates
met o bet better and live up to my potential and privilege as a daughter of
God. I am so grateful for the women around me/throughout my life who
are living examples of the theme "Charity Never Faileth." I could make a
forever long list of these women: relatives, roommates, church leaders,
friends, sisters in the Netherlands, girls I met at EFY, and more, however,
I gotta be honest, as I read this book over the past few mo nths, a stukje
here and a stukje there, I was mostly reading about women who reminded
me of my dear mom. Mom, you do more for everyone than anyone I know.
One of the last things I read was a quote by Sister Eliza R. Snow:
"There are many...whose labors are not known beyond their own dwellings
and perhaps not appreciated there, but what difference does that make? If
your labors are acceptable to God, however simple the duties, if faithfully
performed, you should never be discouraged."
As a missionary, I often find opportunities to be discouraged, and I'll admit,
sometimes I take them. But, as I remember that "...by small and simple things
are great things brought to pass," I realize however unfruitful my efforts to
bring others unto Christ may feel or even appear, as long as I can honestly
account to the Lord at the end of the day that I've done my best, I know my
work is acceptable.
Mom, I know you often feel underappreciated, and to be honeset you are. If
only the world could know everything you've done to make it a better place by
the everyday things you doa in our home and for others, they'd build you a
monument. I might just come home after my mission and do it myself now that
I think about it :) Thank you for all you do to be the best example in my life of
Christ-like living. If I could only be a hundreth-part of the person, but especially
mother, that you are, I will live a full life.
In "Daughters in my Kingdom," President Hinckley is quoted to say:
"When you save a girl, you save generations. She will grown in strength and
righteousnes. She will marry in the house of the Lord. She will teach her
children the ways of truth. They will walk in her paths and will similiarly teach
their children. Wonderful grandmothers will be there to lend encouragement."
(Standing Strong and Immovable, 2004).
As soon as I read this, my thoughts shifted in an instant to you. This is the
legacy you have passed on to me. You have been an example of strength,
righteousness, temple marriage, and teaching after the ways of truth. And
now Melissa is walking in your path and soon will teach and save her daughter
with you there to lend encouragment. Thank you for the heritage of faith you've
given to us. (And shout-out to Grandma for doing such a great job with you!)
I love you Mom. I can't describe enough how much I love you.
At the end of each day we record wonders and "grappjes" (funny things) we've
seen throughout the day. There are for the most part small and simple, but
I thought it'd be fun to share some from this last week with you all...
-Zr. Stout lost her wallet, she left it in the Amsterdam library after we emailed.
We didn't realize it until we were on the train to Haarlem and a man came by
to check tickets. Luckily he was a surveyor so she didn't have to pay a fee. We
couldn't go back right then to find her wallet because we had an appointment,
but our joint-teach called the library for us after the appointment to ask them to
keep a look out for it while we went back to A'dam to try to find it. I had just
enough money in my wallet to get us tickets and when we got to the library it
turned out a girl had found the wallet and the only things missing were a bus
pass and four Euros.
-All of our appointments went through one day!
-We were worried we'd have to stop teaching one of our investigators, but we
get to keep going!
-Met a kid at a snackbar who thought we were cool becuase we are American :)
(PS HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!!!)
-An investigator didn't show up for our appointment and we were worried so
we prayed she was ok and a few minutes later she texted us!
-All of our appointments went through again!
-We had two member presence lessons and one of them way a super
member presence (at a member's house)!
-I am learning how to work well with people...
-I had really good meals one day
-Companionship inventory went well
-We got to speak to our new mission president, President Robinson!
-A family rolled up in church all on their own (or so they think, spirit) and
we got a new investigator out of it! They stayed for all the meetings and
-Dinner with a family in our ward was like being home
-A kid we met on the street, Dante, thought my accent makes Dutch sound
cooler! Nicest kid ever! Motivated me to talk to everyone!
-Had a poetry reading of poems Zr. Stout and I had written at District Meeting
during lunch, they were great!
-An investigator prayed for us to be fruitful...awkward!!
-Our neighbors began constructing something at 9:15 pm...it was loud.
-An investigator sang us Christmas carols
-I don't need to worry about protein on the mission...I eat on average 1-3
bugs a day while on the bike...some are rather large...
-Met a guy who believes in the Viking gods...for real!
-In Dutch there are two ways to say the verb "to know." During a lesson I
accidentally told an investigator I knew him in a biblical way, aah! Luckily he
knew what I meant and I corrected myself as soon as I realized my mistake!!
I hope you all have a great Fourth of July for me!!!! I love you!!!!!!!
I have now been in Haarlem for 4.5ish months and it will be 6 months at the
end of this transfer. I love it here, but that is a REALLY long time!! That said,
I am so grateful that Heavenly Father has kept me here because during this
time I have gotten to work with a man who has completely turned his life
around because of the gospel and is getting baptized in two weeks. His road
to baptism has been long and hard, but his testimony of the gospel has
helped him endure. From teaching him I have truly come to know for myself
the refining power of Christ's Atonement. By applying Christ's Atonement we
become more, the quality of our lives improves, we get a little bit closer to our
potential as sons and daughters of God. In Sunday School this man described
his change as a change of heart, "mijn hart neit meer rood is, maar wit is,"
how beautiful!This morning I was reading along in Alma and he described the
change his father and the people of King Noah experienced as they learned
about the Atonement. They were "awakened out of a deep sleep, and they
awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless,
their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word," (Alma 5:7).
Since being on a mission I feel like I have been awakened from a deep sleep
and filled with light as I have come to know and better understand the Savior's
Atonement. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have of the Atonement, it has
increased my confidence in God's love for me, and it has increased my love
for Him and His children. What great!!
well, almost...haha last week was super great and a great summary of it is I
LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!! Truth :) I think it must be a combination of
regular/frequent scripture reading combined with testimony sharing comb-
ined with seeing progress in really great friends as they prepare for baptism
combined with the spirit leading and guiding the way combined with feeling
and sharing God's love with everyone combined with....well actually I could
keep going, but I think you get the picture :) My mission is definitely NOT
easy, I have my set-backs and disappointments and I would never ever
describe them as easy. Like waking up in the middle of the night puking
bucket-loads of I don't know what, biking so much your knees ache
when you bend each evening, having appointments fall through, having
friends decide they actually aren't too sure if they want to continue in the
gospel, etc. But, when reflecting on my mission thus far I can pretty easily
glide over the memory of the hard things and focus on the perfect
moments in between. Like extending baptismal dates, helping friends
prepare to make covenants that will help them progress,building really
great relationships with companions, members, investigators, basically
everyone around me, knowing that the Lord is guiding and directing me
as I do my best to do his will, etc. The gospel is all about love and joy and
that is what I came on a mission to share. I am so grateful for perfect
moments that make all the rest of the hard stuff worth it. I am grateful for
the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that by increasing my understanding of it
I can better apply it, especially the Atonement, and become a better person
by helping others become more. Which is actually probably one of my
favorite parts of the gospel, that through the Atonement we can become
more and eventually reach our full potential, a potential we can't even
imagine. So cool!! We're great...But only because our heritage is even
Dear Mom, So in this week's email you said, "The Lord put you here for this time and in this place for a reason. He is prepaing people and you must find them," well have I got a story for you!! Turns out the Lord is busy is Haarlem. Last Monday Zr. Jeffs and I were on our way to an eten afspraak with some members and Fabien when we stopped to help a woman who's fiets was falling over with her son strapped in the back. After talking for a few minutes we discovered that within the past few years she's converted from Islam to Christianity, has been praying for help to let go of her past and start over new, and (this is the best part) she lived in FAYETTEVILLE, NC a few years ago!! Can you believe that?! Heavenly Father is very aware of His children and He carefully placed us in each other's paths Monday. Since meeting her we have had one appointment and as far as we can tell she's golden. It is an amazing feeling to know I am a tool in God's plan. Our other investigators are doing pretty good, except one of our baptismal dates dropped us. That was heart-breaking. It's one thing to have our message rejected upfront before people know much about the gospel, but it's a whole-nother thing for someone who has been taking the lessons for a few months now to decide it's not for him. The gospel is definitely for him, it's for everyone!! This last week I've been studying Jacob 5 a lot. In verse 41 it says: "And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept, and said unto the servant: What could I have done more my vineyard?" That's exactly have I felt when he dropped us. But, I bore my testimony and followed the spirit the best I could and it was his choice. Poor use of agency in my opinion. That said, I know that there are people in Haarlem who are prepared and I am fullly committed and excited to helping them come unto Christ. I wish I had time to write all of our wonderful experiences down, but know that the Lord is busy in Haarlem giving us wonders everyday. And I know that if He is aware of situations here in Haarlem, He is definitely aware of your situations too and is willing and ready to help, but we have to do our part: "And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might....and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up..." (Jacob 5:71). I love you all very much!! Thank you for your examples and keep up being the wonderful people you are :) Love, Zr. Becky Hinchcliff