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...