Friday, November 27, 2009

November 23, 2009: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! BOY AM I THANKFUL FOR YOU!‏

Hello Family! I just can't believe another week has come and gone...where does it go!? Thanks for your e-mails...YAY! It is always so fun and exciting every week to hear from you! Your letters always give me a boost and a little taste of home! I have had a wonderful week. Lots of miracles and lots of wonderful moments. It might be a little cliche, but I am going to do a thankful e-mail in honor of good old Thanksgiving. Here are ten things that I am so thankful for right now...hope you enjoy!1. The Savior and the AtonementI am so thankful for Jesus Christ and his church! I am so thankful for the opportunity to be His representative in the Netherlands right now! It is so amazing and I am so richly blessed...I can't even believe how much I am recieving for the small amount that I am giving. This week I took the time to read over some of the blessings that were given to me in my setting-apart and I was amazed at how they truly are coming to pass. I am able to overcome any trials I face, my family is being blessed and taken care, the Atonement has become more real and important to me, I do know that my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are aware of me and know me, the language is coming so well, I am staying strong and healthy, I am being led by the Spirit every step of the way in this work, and I know that I am in the right place at the right time! I am so thankful to be able to share this wonderful message with people here because it is the thing that brings me happiness. I know that through the Savior and the Atonement I can return and live with my Heavenly Father forever and also with...2. My FamilyOh goodness...where do I even begin with this one?! I love you all so much and being here has expanded that love times a million! I don't think that you realize how great you all are and how much you mean to me. You have made me who I am and I think that I always took that for granted. I talk about you and share your example with others here and they are touched by you. This week I was reading in "Jesus the Christ" during my personal study about Mary and Martha. They are both wonderful examples but I do have to admit I am a little more of a Martha than a Mary and so often I miss out on "the better part". Before my mission I loved to serve all of you and I was so concerned about making sure the house was clean, the food was ready, things were organized, etc....that I didn't actually sit and enjoy the moments, the relationships, the strength that comes from talking and learning from one another. I am sorry that I missed out on a lot of those moments but I look forward to years and eternities of being together in joy and happiness. Families are forever...and that is the greatest blessing ever!3. Investigators and Members of the Church here in the NetherlandsWe see miracles every day! Our goal at the beginning of this transfer was to build relationships with the members because they are one of the greatest tools in missionary work...and it has happened! We have gotten to know all of the members really well and have been so blessed by their willingness to go on joint-teach, have investigators in their homes, and serve us, as missionaries. I have learned so much from the members here and I love them so much! I have had such a great time practicing with the Young Women for their program in Sacrament Meeting next week. I have loved the many dinner appointments we have gone to. I have been so blessed ty their testimonies. Our investigators are doing great too! Willeka came to church again yesterday for the fourth time in a row! We also prayed to have random people show up to church and one African man just showed up yesterday...WHAT AN ANSWER TO OUR PRAYERS! We are hopefully going to start teaching him. We taught Mike for the second time this week and he is meeting with us again next Monday. Mehrdad's parents flew back to Iran so we will hopefully pick back up with him. Roda, a recent convert, has a couple of sisters that we did some service for that want to start looking into the church. Nanda is so excited to be meeting with us again on a regular basis. We looked up some old investigators, Specy and Shirlly, and they committed to an appointment. We are really being so blessed here in Zwolle!Well, I didn't get to far with my list but the time is up and I have to go! I wish you all the happiest Thanksgiving ever! And always remember that I am so thankful for you and I will be thinking of you on Thursday! I love you so much and hope that you have a wonderful week! Thanks for your prayers...the power from prayer is so real!Love, Lauren

November 16, 2009: Things Are Lookin' Up

Hello! Can you believe that it is Monday again already! Yesterday was my four month mark (sometimes it seems like forever, but for the most part it has gone so fast!) and this week I am half-way done with my second transfer. Holiday time always seems to speed up, right?! Thank you so much for the wonderful e-mails last week, Mom, Brooke, Britt, and Marianne, and thank you for the ones this week, Mom, Dad, and Brooke! You are the most supportive family ever! This week was great and things seem to be picking up here in Zwolle. Lots of miracles took place and I am so thankful to be able to be serving here. I want to catch you up on everything, so here it goes...
We had some great appointments with members and investigators for the first couple of days of the week and we feel like we are really making progress with bringing unity to the branch here in Zwolle. It is a little difficult because the members live so far away from each other but we are definitely building up some strong relationships and getting the members involved in missionary work. We have been doing this awesome lesson with the members where we ask them to write their testimonies in a Book of Mormon the first visit we make and then when we return to pick up the book, we pray with them and pick a street on the map where we can take their Book of Mormon to give away and do an hour of finding. We ask them to pray for the people on the street that they pick out and then we follow-up with them after and tell them of the many miracles we saw as we did finding on the street. It is so cool! The faith of the members really brings about miracles and they get so excited to hear about the successes we have because of their prayers.
On Thursday all of the Elders in our District, along with the Assistants to the President, came here to Zwolle to do some finding in the Centrum for 2 1/2 hours. One of the Assistants, Elder De Mass, played the bagpipes while the rest of us handed out copies of the Book of Mormon and talked to people. It was so awesome and their was so much power that came with the bagpipes and all of us being together! I am so thankful for the willingness of the elders to come and help us out because the work in Zwolle is a little slow right now. We found so many people that are potential investigators and we are going to start contacting them this week. After our 2 1/2 hours of finding we went and looked up an old investigator named Nanda. We showed up at her door right when she was walking out and she was so excited to see us, she almost started crying! She said that she was having a very difficult day and that she would love to have us come in. We only had a few minutes to visit with her before a dinner appointment but we had a great visit with her and we made an appointment to meet with her this Wednesday. She talked about the feeling that she had felt every time she met with the missionaries and she just loved it! I am really excited to meet with her and share with her the love of our Heavenly Father.
On Friday we had interviews again in Apeldoorn and they were just fabulous! We had some wonderful Zone training by the Zone Leaders and we enjoyed being able to be gathered together with each other and President and Sister Brubaker. Sister Brubaker asked us if she could come with us that night to an appointment as a joint teach because the President had a meeting with the Stake President in Zwolle. What a treat and what an amazing experience. We visited Tineke and it was such a spiritual lesson. Sister and President Brubaker are absolutely amazing and I feel so blessed to be able to serve with them!
Saturday we went in to the Centrum with Tineke and her children to watch Sinter Klaas and Zwarte Piet come into town on a big boat. There was a parade and such fun things but my camera broke so I didn't get any pictures. It was so great to get involved in the culture here and feel the excitement of the holidays in the Netherlands.
Willeka came to church again yesterday and we are meeting with Mehrdad again this week. We are praying really hard that they will both continue to progress! We had two dinner appointments yesterday...the members sure take care of us here! Sister Van Andel hid some goodies in our shoes (a Sinter Klaas tradition) while we were eating and it was such a fun surprise! I gave Tineke a few euros to buy some things that I could put in Zuster Wieland's shoes and she even wrapped the little gifts. It will be fun to live in the culture here and join in the festivities!
Well, my time is up! It goes so fast! I love you so much and I hope that Grandpa is doing better. I have really been praying for all of you this past week! Thank you for your prayers...I have really felt them! FAMILIES ARE FOREVER!Love,Zuster Sharp
PS-Could you send me a new camera? There is plenty of money (I think) in my account so if you want to sent me yours, Mom, and buy you a new one with my money that would be so fabulous! Thanks so much!

November 9, 2009: I Am So Thankful That I Get to Email You Today!

Hello Family! Thanks for all of the wonderful e-mails that I found in my inbox this morning! I am so excited to read them and see how your week was. Mom, the title of your e-mail made me realize how thankful I am to be able to e-mail right now. I woke up this morning at about 6 and was not feeling good at all. I tried to get up but realized I was going to throw-up if I tried to walk. I laid in bed until the alarm went off at 6:15 and asked Sister Weiland if she would get me a bucket. She was so nice and got me one and I laid in bed for a few more minutes until I gave in and threw up. I felt a little better but laid down to regain some strength. It wasn't until one more time of throwing up, going to the bathroom, and then sleeping until 9:30 that I felt good enough to get in the shower. I think it was some kind of food poisoning because I feel so much better now, just a little queasy! Atleast I know that I can throw up and survive without you mom! I feel really blessed that I haven't gotten sick until now with all of the different food we eat from all of the different houses we eat at. The Lord really does bless his missionaries because I am pretty sure I would be dead by now if he didn't (from food alone!). Anyway, it has been an amazing week but the hardest with the work! Emily, the one I told you about last week, called and left us a message on Tuesday and said that she had read in the Book of Mormon and the Holy Ghost told her that it was something that she shouldn't be reading. I was devastated! The Spirit was so strong when we met her that I didn't understand what went wrong. Zuster Wieland then shared some things that she had learned from a Zone Conference a few months ago that helped her realize that no matter what we do as missionaries cannot change the agency of other people. Sometimes I think that if I pray a little bit harder or testify with more power that I could help more people come unto Christ but ultimately it is up to them and whether or not they are willing to open their heart. It was a great lesson for me to learn and even though it was hard, I am so thankful for the experience. We are definitely making progress with our other investigators! The Lord always makes up for the hard times by giving plenty of miracles too! Willeka came to church on Sunday! We had a great lesson with her on Thursday and we really feel like we are getting somewhere. We had our first real lesson in three weeks with Mehrdad on Saturday at Familie Spijkermans and he said that he has been thinking everyday about baptism. The lesson went really well and Brother and Sister Spijkerman were such wonderful joint teaches. He committed to really pray to know if he should get baptized on December 5 (that is the date we picked out with him) and we will teach him this week! We met a wonderful elderly Dutch woman named Nentje who we will be teaching the coming week. She was so excited about the Book of Mormon and we called her a couple of days after we gave it to her and she said that her husband was reading with her too and they loved it! I am so excited to be able to meet with her again. We definitely met her through planning through the Spirit and knocking doors on the street that we felt prompted to go to. She didn’t even live on that street but was visiting her daughter for a day and happened to be there at that time. That wasn’t by chance! The members in Zwolle are getting excited and involved in missionary work! I can communicate with them all so much more and I am really building up relationships with people here. I love the people so much- Even the ones the are mean to us on the door! Zuster Wieland is teaching me so much! I have been so blessed to have the two companions that I have had. I love you all and I am so thankful for all of you! The Lord blessed me with the best family and friends ever! I pray for you and love you! Thank you for all that you do and have a wonderful day! Love, Laur

November 2, 2009: Happy Halloween! Can You Believe it is November?

How are you all doing?! I hope that you had another fabulous week! Well, I hope you all had a fabulous Halloween. I had a really great week! Lots of emotions with everything changing but I am getting settled in to my new companionship and I am learning so much! The first couple of days of the week Zuster Baxter and I had a lot of eating appointments with investigators and members that wanted to make a "last meal" for Zuster Baxter. They all loved her so much and she was just an amazing missionary with so much love for everyone! I don't know if you got my SD card or not but we did get in a bike crash and it is on video..hilarious! But, Zuster Baxter messed up her ankle pretty bad so she couldn't do any tracting for her last two days here. She was really sad but it did give her plenty of time to pack! It was sad to see her go on Wednesday and I think that I was just as nervous as she was to go home to get a new companion. I woke up at 2:00 in the morning on Wednesday because I couldn't sleep and she was awake too. I am so thankful that I was blessed to have her as my trainer and I love her so much! Zuster Wieland arrived in the train station at about 12:30 on Wednesday and she is just great! Totally different from Zuster Baxter but still an amazing missionary. It did take me a little time to adjust to a new companion because Zuster Baxter was all I knew but things are good now. My ability to speak the language has just exploded this week as I have been the one leading us around Zwolle (we haven't got lost yet...Dad, I think I am like you...if I have been somewhere once I'll never forget how to get back again...thanks!), answering the phone and making calls, and being familiar with investigators and members. I have been so blessed! We are definitely sharing more of the responsibility and I talk and teach as much as her in the lessons. I love it! I have really felt the guidance of the Spirit this week. On Saturday we did 3 1/2 hours of finding (a long time all in a row) and we did see much success until the end when we had a miracle happen! That morning as we were preparing to head out I had a feeling to take an english Book of Mormon with me. At the end of our hour we knocked on a door and a nice young Dutch mother let us into her house. We sat down and shared the experience of Joseph Smith with her and gave her a Book of Mormon. The spirit was so powerful and she was definitely prepared to hear it. We made an appointment to come back in 2 weeks and as we were leaving she asked us if it was at all possible that she could get a copy of the Book of Mormon in english because her husband is from Nigeria and can read english better than dutch! Holy cow! I was so excited! We gave her the Book of Mormon in english too and she said that they would read it together! I know that great things are going to happen with them (Emily and David are there names). It is true that the blessings come after the trial of our faith. Anyway, Zuster Wieland and I have talked with many members this week and we have a goal to create a sense of unity in our branch. So many of the members have said that they can just feel that Zwolle is ready to explode with baptisms. Everytime I hear that I get emotional too because I can feel it too! Zuster Wieland and I prayed the other day to know how many baptisms we want to have by the end of the year so that we can help accomplish the whole mission goal of 300. The spirit was so strong as we prayed that I felt that the room was filled with people on the other side helping us. We both sat in silence, basking in the amazing feeling and set the goal to have 5 baptisms by the end of the year! It will take work and faith but I feel like it was a prompting from the spirit! I am so excited! I love you all! I was wondering if you could send me a conference issue of the ensign because I can't get one here. I would appreciate iit so much! Have a great week and know that you are always in my prayers! FAMILIES ARE FOREVER! And GO YANKEES!Love, Laur/Zuster Sharp PS-keep your eyes open for something!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October 26, 2009: Zone Conference and a New Companion!

How exciting to check my e-mail and see that Carter is here! Congratulations Brooke and Derek! He is soooo cute! Big baby too! I haven't read any of the other e-mails but I hope that everything went well with the delivery and all! Tell him that I love him and keep me posted with pictures! Ohhh! Give him tons of hugs and kisses for me! I wish I could smell the new baby smell right now! My week was really great! Things were really busy this week because Friday we had Zone Conference in Amsterdam! Zone Conference was amazing and so uplifting. President Brubaker focused on following the example of the Savior in teaching and asking great questions. President and Sister Brubaker talked about having a change of heart and about having love for everyone. So much that I needed to hear and that is already helping me in the work. It was so great to gather together with so many missionaries in one spot! It was especially great to see Zuster Fritz, Elder Johnson, and Elder Matthews! They are doing so great too and we had a fun time catching each other up with our experiences in the different areas that we serve in. I also got to meet a lot of the sisters in the mission so I was anxious to find out who my second companion would be this morning. This next transfer I will be serving with Zuster Wieland! I don't know her to well but I am sure that she will be great. She only has 2 more transfers left in her mission so this will be her last city. I am excited to have a new companion but I am actually more nervous than I thought I would be. I am so comfortable with Zuster Baxter and we work so well together that I hope that all goes well this next transfer....I am just too much of a worry wart! I KNOW it will be good! At Zone Conference Sister Brubaker focused a lot on cleanliness and how it invites the Spirit and I seriously almost wanted to stand up in the middle of the meeting and say AMEN! She asked us to focus on cleaning up our apartments and making them more organized and I am so excited about that! I started really taking the time to get things done in our apartment while Zuster Baxter did some packing and we even bought some rags at the store! It was my favorite purchase of the day! Zuster Baxter just laughs at me...that I get so excited about cleaning...but it really does invite the Spirit! I have to admit that I miss being able to do more cleaning. When I get home make sure the house is a mess so I can make up for all of the time I missed out on! This week we didn't do much with our investigators because they were all busy and appointments fell through but we had some great finding time doing surveys on the street and knocking doors. We have a lot of potential investigators and I am excited to see where they go! We spent a lot of time working with the members this week, less-active and recent converts especially. I have a goal this next transfer to visit every member of our branch atleast once. I have prayed about it and thought about it a lot and I think that it would help the work so much here in Zwolle if we got all of the members involved. We also had correlation meeting with Brother Knarren and Brother Ajubi and we are talking about doing a musical Christmas program and making fliers for it to hand out as we go tracting. I think that it will be great! Anyway, I love you so much and I am praying for you! I literally feel your prayers and appreciate them so much! Hope that you all have a great week and enjoy Halloween! I LOVE YOU!Love, Zuster SharpPS-Thank you for the package mom and kelly! So awesome! You will hear more about it in my letter home! AWESOME!

October 19, 2009: DAG!

Hallo! How are you all? I am assuming that Baby Carter is not here yet from the titles of your e-mails this. I have been thinking about him all week and I am so anxious to hear how things go! This week has been amazing one and I have seen so many miracles. Really, miracles happen every minute of every day and I am so amazed at how intensely active the Lord is in missionary work. I am so thankful for the gift of the Holy Ghost and the way that he leads and guides. The gift of the Holy Ghost is really one of the greatest gifts that we have because it will tell us everything we need to do! On Monday we went and had a great day with Tineke in a few different cities close by here. I hope that you got the SD card and were able to enjoy the photos from that day. The Netherlands is so beautiful and I love being able to see more and more of it. I feel like this is the perfect place for me because:1. There is flowers everywhere2. Lots of windows to let the sunlight in3. They eat yogurt and granola all of the time for dessert4. They love fresh produce and it is extra good here5. The people are amazing!Every day I am so thankful to be here and I know that it wasn't by chance that I was placed in the Netherlands to serve. The above reasons are kind of silly but really, I feel at home here and I just love all of the people that I get to meet everyday! The Lord has blessed me so much!Monday night we went and taught Joanna. IT was our first follow-up appointment and it was so exciting to walk into her apartment and see her Bible and "Plan of Salvation"pamphlet all ready on the table. She is a 21 year old college student and she is so open to learning more about the gospel. We had a great lesson with her and gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon. We extended Moroni's promise to her and she committed to read and pray. We are hoping to get back to her on Tuesday night!Tuesday morning we had a first follow-up appointment with Rose, a young, single African mom with 2 children. She is so sweet! She has such a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and was very excited to learn more about our message. We sang for her and she was so happy! She is going to read from the Book of Mormon and pray too!On Thursday we did a consecrated hour of finding and we prayed to know where we should go. We felt good about a certain area but not about a certain street like we usually do. We went to the area and started knocking on doors. It was amazing to see how each different street that we went on we were led to someone we needed to talk to. The Lord didn't need us on just one street, but on many in the area. We actually found a new investigator and two potential investigators in just one hour!Friday we did exchanges with the sisters in Groningen and I worked with Zuster Gulliver for the day. She is amazing! I learned so much from her and it really opened my eyes to the many different approaches to missionary work. We saw a lot of miracles that day and it got me more excited than anxious to find out who my new companion will be this coming Monday for my 2nd transfer! We tallied up all of our key indicators yesterday for the week and we saw really how much the Lord blessed us with the goals that we set for the week. We had 15 lessons taught this past week, which is above and beyond any other week since I have been here! Setting goals and having the faith to reach them brings miracles! This week is Zuster Baxter's last so we are going to make it the best. We have a lot of exciting things happening and Zwolle is a changing place! Friday we have Zone Conference which I am so excited for! I am getting a little sick again, I think that the pneumonia kind of lingered and now it is picking back up again with the cold weather, but I am downing Vitamin C and hopefully I will get better soon! I love you so much and thank you for your prayers and love! Have a great week! Another letter will be coming! FAMILIES ARE FOREVER!Love, Laur

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 12, 2009: Week of miracles!

How are you doing! I am so excited to read your letters, Mom, Dad, and Brooke! Thank you so much! Monday nights are always my favorite when I can sit back after a long day and read all of your letters until it is time to go to bed!
From the titles of your e-mails it doesn't sound like baby Carter has come yet but I am getting so excited to hear all about him! I can't wait until he gets here! He is going to be so adorable!
This week is my three month mark for being a missionary, my four week mark for being in another country, and my six month mark since I got my mission call! Isn't that just crazy! I can't believe how fast time is going! I am already 1/6 of the way done with my mission!
Mom, Dad, Carli, Corbin-thanks so much for the letters last week! They were so AWESOME! Mom and Dad, your counsel and the scriptures that you shared were truly inspired and helped me so much. I am so thankful for your love and your testimonies. I could not do this without your support and your understanding. Things are really going so great and I know that most of that comes from your prayers and the things that you mentioned in your letters. Conference weekend sounded like it was awesome! The family sounds like they are doing well and hearing about the kids makes me realize how much they are growing up. This week has been so AWESOME! We have so many new investigators...this next week is jam packed with appointments. Zwolle is on fire! We even had a guy stop us on the way to e-mail and ask us if we could teach him (that just doesn't happen!) because he saw our nametags! We did a lot of finding this week and we found that doing surveys with people is the most effective. We spent a lot of time in parks and at the train station talking to people and praying with people...it is so amazing to pray with someone we just met in the middle of a crazy train station. We have 4 new women investigators, Joanna, Rose, Chantelle, and Maria, and 4 male investigators, Mehrdad, Jan Bastiaan, Johnathan, and Kevin. Because we had such a great week we fasted that this coming week we will be able to meet the standards of excellence set for the mission. The standards are quite high but I am realizing how much goal setting really makes a difference! I know that the Lord will help us meet our goal as long as we do our best and work as hard as we can!
Along with a lot of spiritual experiences this past week, we had some crazy ones too! Zuster Baxter accidentally locked us out of our apartment on Wednesday but luckily the Zone leaders were able to bring us a spare key. Wednesday night we had dinner with Familie Knarren in Kampen and we didn't leave their house until 20 minutes later than we should have to catch the train. We had to run as fast as we could in the pouring rain to make it to the train on time and somewhere along the streets in Kampen my key to my bike fell out of my pocket. When we arrived back in Zwolle at 9:00 we realized what had happened so I had to leave my bike at the station and ride on the back of Zr. Baxte'r's all the way home. We were both soaked but laughing so hard! The next day we went to Familie Spijkerman's to see if they had a spare key and they had 6 that they found but none of them worked with the lock on my bike. I was just sick thinking that I would have to have someone in the ward come and saw the lock off of my bike and buy a new one. The next day we went back to familie Spijkerman's to do a fireside with the YW/YM in the ward and they had found one more key! it worked! What a blessing and a miracle! I also got kissed by a random 39 year old single man on the street...so crazy! I am all out of time but I want you to know that I love you so much and I love the people here in the Netherlands. This gospel is amazing and the Lord is so actively involved in our lives! Have a great week!
Love,Zuster Sharp

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday, October 4, 2009: What an Amazing Week!

How are you all!? This has been such an amazing week for me! Lots has happened so I will do my best to fill you in. Thanks Mom, Dad, Carli, and Corbin for the e-mails. I can't wait to read them when I am done e-mailing! Well, first of all, I lost one of my companions last Tuesday. Kind of crazy, huh?! Zuster Erickson got a phone call from the President on Monday and he told her to pack her bags because she was going to be transferred to Belgium to work in the mission office with a Zuster who needs help learning english. She was so excited and we were excited for her too, but sad that she had to leave us! We know that she will do great there though and that everything is falling into place the way that the Lord wants it to. I am seeing more and more how it is turning into a great blessing that I had 2 companions for the first 2 weeks to help me adjust to mission life and have a great example to look at, and now it is good that I just have one where I have a little more responsibility and ability to participate more in the teaching of lessons. Zuster Baxter and I are having a great time and I just love her so much! She is the perfect trainer for me and I feel so blessed for all of the wonderful things she is teaching me. But, it didn't hit me until two days ago, that I will be taking over the city of Zwolle when Zuster Baxter leaves in 3 1/2 weeks to go home! I am terrified but excited at the same time. I know that I will receive another senior companion but I am responsible for knowing my way around the city and really knowing what is going on with the ward and with the investigators. I am really working hard to get everything down and be prepared to get another companion. I am even taking a lot of time and cleaning out the apartment to make sure it will be ready to get to work! This will really push me...which is a good thing! This week was the first time that I experienced the rain in Holland and just as soon as I feel comfortable with the bike, I have to put a bike and an umbrella together...get the picture! I ran into a couple of things last week with the umbrella in the way of my vision but I haven't done any serious damage. Mom, maybe if you can find one of those old umbrella hats that would be helpful! Just kidding! I am sure I will get it down soon enough! Mehrdad is progressing so well! We met with him on Friday night and had a great discussion! He said, in his broken English, that he thinks that we (including him) have a lot of work to do to share the Book of Mormon with all of the other churches! He wants to come on joint teaches with us and he is just loving reading the Book of Mormon and coming to church. As we were teaching him I got so excited and felt such a strong spiritual prompting to invite him to be baptized. I extended the baptismal commitment and he kind of had a hard time understanding why he needed to be baptized again but he said that he would think about it. We asked him if he would be willing to pray about and he said, "Can we pray right now?" AMAZING! We prayed with him and he said that he felt good, but needed some more time to let it settle in. He came to 3 sessions of conference with us on Sunday and enjoyed it so much! I think it was hard for him to understand a lot of the English but I talked to him afterwards and he said that he received a lot of answers to the questions that he had. The branch members were so good to him and made him feel welcomed and it was such a great experience. He will be out of town this week but hopes to be to church on Sunday! Friday we had interviews with the mission president in Appeldoorn and it was a great day! I love President and Sister Brubaker so much and I am so thankful for the counsel of the President. He is all about love and charity, and is such a great example to me. He said that the mission goal is to double the members in our mission by 2019, meaning that we have to get 330 baptisms per year! We can do it! I know that there will be many miracles happening! Saturday we went to the temple and that was such a tender mercy of the Lord! The Den Hague temple is so beautiful! It is almost just like the Medford, Oregon temple and that brought back such sweet memories of going to the Medford temple with Grandma Sharp, Mom, Monte and Deanne, and Brett and Barb. I am so thankful for that opportunity! Saturday night we went to a session of conference and then stayed with Familie Vels in Appeldoorn. Sunday was powerful and I loved conference so much! Along with having Mehrdad there, we also had another investigator, Willeka, and a less-active member, Rhoda! I was so uplifted by the talks and I can hardly wait til next Sunday to see the last session of conference! I love the prophet and the counsel he gave! My time is about out but I want you to know that I love you and will be writing more...30 minutes is just too short! Mom, a few things that I thought might be good for a package are spaghetti, taco, and ranch mix! THank you so much! You can send packages to my apartment...it is actually better that way! I know that I have a package from someone that got sent to Charleoi that is still at the mission office until Zone conference so sending it to my apartment is better! I love you and hope that you are doing so well! The gospel is true!Love,Lauren

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday, September 28: I am so glad to receive emails from you!

Hello! Thank you so much for the e-mails! I have been so anxious to hear from you! Since I can only have 30 minutes on the computer I have to print out your e-mails and read them later and I am just dying to hear how you are doing! I wasn't able to check my e-mail since last Monday so I am stoked to hear all about home. Thank you mom, dad, and brooke! My e-mail will be kind of short today because the e-mail service has not been so good and I have been booted out quite a few times but I hope I can get as much in as I would like to (most likely I'll end up writing another letter and sending it out again later today because no matter how hard I try I cannot write everything in just 30 minutes!). The mission president made a new mission rule 2 transfers ago that at the beginning of every transfer from the first Monday to the following Monday we can only speak Dutch! This past week was kind of crazy trying to only communicate in Dutch 24/7 but I made it and I know that it helped me so much! Sometimes I felt like the loner in our companionship just because Zuster Erickson and Zuster Baxter have both been out for so long and can totally communicate well in Dutch and I just smile. Today I have been able to explain so many things I wanted to express earlier in the week in English but I couldn't-I think I have been talking non-stop all morning! Anyway, we have seen so many miracles this week! Zwolle was only opened for sister missionaries two transfers ago and it is just taking off! We have found so many amazing and prepared people this week and I just stand in awe! Merhdad is making great strides. He has read a lot in the Book of Mormon and we had two appointments with him. He says that when we testify of things he can hear another voice behind ours telling him that what we are saying is true! So cool! He came to church on Sunday and we had a great investigators class with him. He committed to come to all four sessions of general conference with us on Saturday and Sunday and he is so excited to see and hear from the prophets and apostles. I know that it will be a great experience for him and he will know that those men speak the word of God. We again had a lot of dinner appointments-the members here are so willing to serve us and help in the missionary work! We did about 8 hours of finding time this week and we found such prepared people. We have 3 new people that we are going to meet with soon that we met at the train station and just while knocking doors. On Saturday we went to Familie Knarrens house and made lunch for them while they did some remodeling in their house. They are such an awesome Family! They have us over every week for dinner and they are so kind and a great example to me. We made them french toast, american pancakes, fresh fruit, and yummy Kneaders syrup (I hoped that I could remember the recipe and it worked out! It was great! It made me miss home a little, especially conference time, but I was thinking of all of you as I enjoyed it!) They have become my family away from home and I love to be with them. Broeder Knarren is the new ward mission leader assistant and I know that he will do many great things in this Branch! We have a lot to look forward to this coming week with General Conference and all! I am so excited! And we also get to go to the Den Hague temple on Saturday because one of the ladies Sister Baxter taugth is going through. So great! I miss the templs so I am so stoked to go! The work is moving forward and I just love seeing it happen! People's lives here are changing, especially mine (the way that the language is coming is miraculous)! I love the gospel and I love the Lord! I love all of you too! You are in my prayers and thoughts! I hope that you have a great week and remember...FAMILIES ARE FOREVER! Enjoy General Conference and take care! Love, Zuster Sharp

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday, September 21: I am in the Netherlands!

Hello! How are you all doing? I got Brooke's letter this morning and I think there might be a little mix-up in the e-mail that you received from the President because I am actually in Zwolle in the Netherlands. I am pretty sure that Charlleoi is in France so I don't know how that happened but my companions and I had a pretty good laugh about it! Anyway, just in case you got the wrong apartment address mine is:Rommestraat 798015 AS ZwolleNetherlandsAnything sent to the mission office I won't get until interviews in three weeks but if you send it to the address above I should get it right away. Enough of the technical stuff...It was so great to be able to talk to you all on Monday and I just love you all so much! The 7 1/2 hour flight over here wasn't to bad but I was ready to get off the plane when we arrived. I am sure you saw how beautiful I looked after all of that...horrible! We spent the day with the Mission President and his wife (they are amazing!) which included showering, filling out papers, visiting the dedicated mission site, eating dinner in the big square in Belgium, and opening our call letters! It was awesome! I was the last to open my call letter and I was so nervous but so excited too! I had not a clue where Zwolle was or what my companions, Zuster Baxter and Zuster Erickson, would be like but I was up for finding out. The next morning I had to take a five hour train to actually get here and I was quite motion sick but everything was good. From the second I met Zuster Baxter and Zuster Erickson I just fell in love with them and Zwolle and I am so happy here! The Netherlands is such a beautiful place and the people are amazing! The first day we went directly to a dinner apointment with Familie Knarren and had some traditional Dutch fast food-fries, sausage, and this other deep fried thing(they told me that I don't want to know what is in it). After dinner we did a short lesson for them and I told the 1st vision in Dutch. It was scary but they are such a nice family that they made me feel like I said it absolutely flawlessly. I really already love the people here so much! We then went to a teaching appointment with a man named Metska and taught him about prophets and apostles. I couldn't understand a lot of what he was saying but I did say the prayer at the end of the lesson. It was so great to participate so much in the lessons because it helped me get over my fear of speaking the language right at the beginning...so great! Thursday morning we had our usual studies and then went to teach a woman named Willeka. On the way there I fell off of my bike...no surprise...and pushed the bike pedal in just a bit. I don't think that my companions realized at that moment that me falling off of my bike would be a normal occurence so they tried not to laugh but I think they have figured it out by now and we just have a great time cracking up everytime I fall over! I don't know if I am ever going to get the bike riding down! But I do love riding bikes all over. It is so refreshing and so much fun! Thursday night, after a few more appointments we took a 45 minute bus ride out to a small little town, so picturesque, and at Indonesian food with a little old widow who is a member. She was so sweet! Friday we did our first consecrated hour of tracting and it went so well! I learned quickly when contacting at the door not to ask people how they are doing...they think you are weird and they are very private! We actually met a woman from Iran and she let us come in and sing for her but we couldn't teach her anymore because she is Muslim and her learning more about the gospel could put her life in danger-sad! That night we followed up on a contact we had received with a 35 year old Pakistani man and he made us some Pakistanian food. Lots of dinner appointments! He was so amazing and we gave him a Book of Mormon and he committed to come to church! I was so excited! After that appointment, we went and taught a young woman named Sairah who is already a member but is trying to stop smoking. The Spirit was so strong and the joy of the Atonement was felt by her and us. She made a plan for quitting smoking and I think she is going to make great progress! Saturday we had our first correlation meeting with Brother Ajubi, the ward mission leader. I suggested having a fireside for investigators and new members about the temple and we are really looking into it (thanks Bro. Bond!). After we went to his home and made some delicious Nigerian food with his family! They are amazing members and willing to do all they can to help with missionary work! Church on Sunday was so great! There is only a small Branch of 40 members here but they are so strong! Mehrdad came to church and he loved it! He said that he read quite a bit in the Book of Mormon so on Tuesday we are going back to teach him more! Definitely a miracle! In Sacrament Meeting I had to stand and introduce myself and bear my testimony! It went pretty well! We had dinner with Familie Spijkerman and they said they want us to start teaching their 14 year old son who is mentally handicapped and hasn't been baptized yet! I am really excited for that because I will be able to use a lot of the teaching skills I learned at school for that. I think that I am going to start playing the piano in church every week too! It is so great to serve! Last night we went and taught an old goat farmer about the plan of salvation. I think he was a little overwhelmed but it went well. It has been a busy week and I have been a little homesick, just being in a new place, but it feels so right being here and I just love the joy that the gospel brings! I love you all so much and I thank you for your prayers and support! Kris, I know now what you meant when you said that you had to put pictures of the nieces and nephews away on your mission...me too! I have never felt so right in a place than I do now! The work is moving forth and I am seeing miracles every day! I love you and pray for you always! FAMILIES ARE FOREVER!Love,Zuster Lauren Sharp

The Safe Arrival of Sister Sharp: Tuesday, September 15

Dear Brother and Sister Sharp,

Sister Sharp has arrived safely! She looks excited and enthusiastic about her mission. We are delighted to have her with us. Her first assignment will be in the city of Zwolle. Her address will be:

Rommestraat 79
8015 AS Zwolle
Netherlands


We are continually impressed by the eagerness and strong testimonies of the new missionaries arriving in the mission field. We are happy for her addition to our missionary corps and assure you that we will do everything possible to make this a rewarding, cherished, and spiritual experience.

As you know, missionary work can be quite demanding. To help maintain a positive attitude for your missionary, communication from family and friends is especially important and should be supportive. May we make the following suggestions: write each week; make your letters optimistic and encouraging; avoid references to problems at home unless absolutely necessary; show genuine interest in your missionary’s daily activities and especially in her accomplishments.

Sister Brubaker and I wish to thank you for this ambassador of the Lord. We know that you will
be blessed during the service of Sister Sharp. We have frequent opportunity to review each missionary’s situation and needs. We hold zone conferences and personal interviews every six weeks. We do our best to love, encourage, sustain all of our missionaries, and to take personal interest in each one of them. They keep me informed as to their specific circumstances through a weekly letter. If you know of anything that would help me in assisting your missionary, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Know that your missionary is in the hands of the Lord and under His protection (Matthew 28:19).

We also invite you to visit our the mission blog that we have created. The address is http://www.belgiumbrusselsnetherlandsmission.blogspot.com/. This helps you see a little bit of their mission. Pictures from their first day in Brussels will be added to the site shortly. There is also a photo attachment with this email.

We are most appreciative of your constant support for your missionary.

Sincerely yours,

Scott M. Brubaker
President

Wednesday, September 9: Eight and Final Week at the MTC

Hello Family and Friends!Brooke, thanks for your little e-mail! That was a fun surprise this morning. How are you all doing? It sounds like you had an awesome Labor Day weekend camping and spending time together. Mom, thanks so much for the package and the letter! The suitcase tags are absolutely adorable and just what I needed! The birthday list is awesome too! Thank you for doing that and sending the dramamine, baggies, and toothpaste. There are a few more things that I thought of that would be really helpful if you don't mind...you are so great and so willing to serve me. You do so much! I don't know if you saw the little note that I wrote on the box of the package I sent home but I could really use a brown downeast t-shirt with short sleeves, not just the cap sleeves. Also, I've wanted to buy another SD card for my camera so I can send the one I have now home and we can just keep sending 2 back and forth so you can get my pictures. The bookstore is all out of them and they don't know if they will get anymore in before I leave. The bookstore is also out of calling cards so I figure I just won't call home on Monday...just kidding! But if you could send me a calling card too, that would be great. And a small 3 oz. or less bottle of hairspray for my carry-on. I know that I am going to look horrible once I get to Belgium but I'll have to do whatever I can to look my best. Anyway, that is a lot to ask but I would appreciate it so much! This week has been awesome! Time is just speeding up more and more, probably because I want it to slow down, but I am getting more excited to leave in 5 days! I figured for this last e-mail from the MTC I would make a list of my 10 favorite things about the MTC, so here it goes! 1. My Branch! I love all of the missionaries that make up my Branch! They are awesome! I am so impressed by the 19 and 20 year old elders. They are so dedicated to the work, worthy, and enthusiastic about sharing the gospel! Yeah, yeah, there are the times when they are immature and goofy but I love them and I have learned so much from them, especially Elder Johnson and Elder Matthews who are in my class with Zuster Fritz and I. They have such strong testimonies and I am so excited to be able to serve with them in Belgium and the Netherlands...I know that they are going to do amazing things! I've loved being able to serve as Coordinating Sister...I am sad that is almost over. I have been so blessed to be able to see the examples of all of the sisters in my Branch. They have influenced me so much. I am thankful for my Branch Presidency and their wives. The Lafferty's, Creer's, and Chandler's are amazing and so dedicated to serving. I am going to miss all of these people but I will remember all that they have taught me!2. My teachers, Broeder Bond and Zuster Spencer, are outstanding! I really think that I was blessed to have the greatest teachers in the MTC. They are the perfect examples of the kind of teacher I want to be as I share the gospel. There Dutch is amazing and they have been so patient with me as I have worked to learn. They have taught me how important it is to teach by the Spirit and love those I teach...invaluable lessons. There testimonies have strengthened mine and I will miss them.3. Of course...Companions! I have already bragged about Zuster Fritz so much so you know how much I love her! I will miss her so much when we are seperated. She has been the greatest second companion that I could ever had. She has been a light and example to me!4. The RC! I called Bryce back on Friday and he had read and prayed. His faith is amazing to me and I think that as I talked with him on the phone he taught me more than I taught him. The spirit was very powerful and strong and I felt prompted to ask him if he would meet with the missionaries...and he agreed! I was so excited! I am going to write him a letter today and try to keep in touch with him to see how things go. I have total confidence that he will accept the gospel! Missionary work is so thrilling and brings so much joy!5. Receiving letters from all of you! You don't know how much it brightens my day to hear from you! THANK YOU for all of your love and support! Prayers too! I feel the power of your prayers and I am so thankful for your faith!6. Seeing familiar faces! I have seen so many people that I know here. President Allen, sisters from high school, Ryan (my co-counselor from EFY-crazy!), sisters from Utah State, Elder Grant...there is nothing like seeing a familiar face!7. Granola and peaches for breakfast. You know how I like routine and schedule and I have found that if I have granola and peaches every morning for breakfast I am happy and satisfied! Every other meal I can't say the same, but I do love breakfast!8. Firesides and Devotionals! So many wonderful speakers and members of the quorum of the seventy and the twelve. Absolutely amazing and so inspiring!9. Personal Study! I love the hour I get every day to study in the scriptures. I have learned so much here and I am so thankful for this opportunity. This is definitely not a sacrifice of time but a huge blessing!10. Sunday is my favorite day...although I do love everyday here. Sunday is really a day of rest and rejuvenation and I am so thankful for it! Well, I love you and I can't wait to talk to you on Monday. I will be letting you know about my flight plans in my letter home. Thank you so much once again! Never forget that FAMILIES ARE FOREVER! Love,Zuster Lauren Sharp

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wednesday, September 2: Seventh Week at the MTC

Hello Family and Friends! How was your week? It was so great to hear from many of you and such a comfort to me to know that you are all doing okay. I do pray for you and your individual needs and think about you often. You are such a great source of strength to me! This week was so wonderful and full of many opportunities to do "real" missionary work! I know that all that I have done here at the MTC has been real but we have mostly practiced teaching with pretend investigators. Last Thursday in the RC I called a real investigator whose name is Bryce and he lives in Texas. I think he is about 19 years old and is going to college, thinking about majoring in theology. The week before I had commited him to read Ether 12 and to pray about it. I was a little nervous to call him back to see how the reading and praying went for fear that he might not have done it. I was so happy and filled with joy when he answered his phone and told me that he had read and prayed and that he felt good about it! He had a lot of questions and I taught him about the Plan of Salvation, and I was amazed at the scriptures and words that the Holy Ghost brought to my mind as I spoke to him! He commited to read more and he said that he was going to go into the woods on Saturday and pray to God to know if the Book of Mormon is true and if Joseph Smith was a prophet. How cool! He really has a lot of faith and I think that I learned more from him than he learned from me. I can't wait to call him back tomorrow to see how his reading and praying went again and to commit him to meet with the missionaries or attend church. This experience is giving me a little taste of what I am going to be doing in Belgium and the Netherlands and I am so excited! Last Wednesday our Branch got 2 more sisters so I got to help orient (I don't know if that is spelled right...I can't spell in English anymore!) them to the MTC. One of the sisters was really struggling on Thursday night with feelings of inadequacy and so I had the opportunity to spend an hour or so with her, talking with her, sharing personal experiences, and being there when she received a priesthood blessing from the Elders. Although I didn't get to sleep until about 11:00 and I didn't have time to worry about myself and the things I needed to do, I was so happy! I don't know why I have to learn over and over that serving and caring for others is not a sacrifice but a blessing, but I do know that it is true! I have been so blessed to be able to serve as coordinating sister and my love for the sisters is amazing! They give me so much more than I ever give them. 4 of them left this week, as well as Tish and her roommates that I really got close to, so I am sad to not see them anymore but I know they are where they are supposed to be! I can't believe I only have 10 days left here! I am sad and nervous and overwhelmed...I have lost my appetite again just like I did about 10 days before I came into the MTC! I am praying to have more faith and trust in the Lord and his ability to make me what he needs me to be and able to share his gospel to bring more people unto him. My language skills are weak but my testimony of trusting in the spirit is growing as I am seeing how its not the words that I say that matter, it is the spirit that touches the hearts of the people I teach. I am so thankful for my two amazing teachers, Brother Bond and Zuster Spencer, who are trying to teach me that and reassure me that I will be fine once I get to the Netherlands...I sure hope so! I actually received a letter this week from a sweet sister who I was acquanted with at school last semester who is serving in the Netherlands. The letter really boosted my spirits and got me excited to be out there! I know it will be amazing! Our teachers are putting a lot of confidence in the four of us in our class and are giving us the opportunity to teach them, not as pretend investigators, but as themselves. I am a little nervous because they are the epitimy of great teachers but we are going to fast and pray to prepare and hopefully we are going to be open enough to recieve inspiration about what we should teach. I let you know how it goes! We should get our flight plans this week! I am trying to start packing so I can be prepared. I am excited to be done eating the MTC food...9 weeks is just a little too long for cafeteria food (sorry dad!)! Thanks, Mom, for sending the zucchinni bread, craisins, and cashews! You are a lifesaver! Those are some of my favorite things and such a good change! My companions enjoyed the food too! I am going to be really sad to say goodbye to my companions, roommates, district, branch, and branch presidency! The relationships I have formed her are so unique because they are built on the gospel! It is such an amazing privelege and blessing for me to be here and to be serving the Lord. There are hard times, but so many more amazing and wonderful times! I can't wait to start teaching and see the changes that people are willing to make to follow the Savior. I have so many changes I still need to make to be a better representative of him and I am so thankful for the Atonement and his mercy and grace that allows me to do that! I love the gospel and I know it is true! Thank you all for the impact you've had on my life and the examples you've been to me! I love you and hope you have a great week! Thanks for your prayers!Love,Zuster Lauren SharP.S. pictures are coming

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26: Sixth Week at the MTC

Dear Family and Friends,How are you all doing? This week has been an amazing one...not like all of the other weeks haven't been...but this one has been extra good! First of all, I want to thank you for your prayers in my behalf that I would get feeling better. I felt the power from your prayers and I know that they have blessed me. Every day I have felt better and I have regained my energy. I went to the doctor yesterday for my last check-up and he said that my lungs sound a ton better and that my ears look not so swollen. My ears are still a little bit plugged up and tender but I know it will just take some time for them to get all of the way better. I know that there is power from prayer and that your prayers helped me so much! THANKS! Well, to re-cap the week, last Thursday was the hardest day I have ever had while here at the MTC, but always after the hard times I appreciate the blessings I have so much more and I grow closer to the Savior. On Thursday Zuster Fritz and I had to teach both of our progressing investigators in Dutch. I always get really nervous before teaching because of my poor language skills and my desire to teach with the Spirit. We taught our investigators and I was so frusterated because I wanted so badly to express my testimony, love for the investigators, and love for the Savior but my poor vocabulary seemed to hold me back. I felt the Spirit within my heart but I felt like I could not get my investigators to feel it. After teaching both investigators I was pretty overwhelmed and humbled. We went to the Referral Center to make calls to people throughout the US and talk to them about church materials they had ordered because of a pass-a-long card they had received or a TV ad they had seen. I was not really excited to do this because of the difficulty I had had with teaching my investigators but I said a prayer in my heart that I would be able to follow the spirit as I made the phone calls. My first call a young man answered the phone and I began to talk to him. I felt like the spirit placed in my heart all of the things I needed to say and all of the scriptures I needed to share with him. He was so receptive to the message and commited to read Ether 12 and pray about it. I bore a simple testimony and he agreed to have me call him back a couple of days later to follow up on his reading and praying. It was so awesome! I know that the phone call was a tender mercy from the Lord letting me know that I do have the ability to share the gospel with others as I rely on the Spirit and do my best. I know that I will make a lot of mistakes with the Dutch language but I also know that the spirit doesn't make mistakes and will carry the message I desire to share into the hearts of those I am teaching no matter how poor my speaking abilities may be. This experience changed my whole week and made me re-commit to try my best to follow the spirit! I have seen miracles everyday come from being more sensitive to the spirit. Sunday was awesome with the temple dedication! I was able to attend the 3:00 session and I absolutely love President Monson's talk and Elder Zwick's talk. The temple is such a special place and it is such a blessing to have so many so close to us. I know that the temple is the house of the Lord and that he dwells there. Sunday night President Allen came to the MTC again and spoke at the fireside. He is such an amazing man! Yesterday was definitely my favorite day of the week! Elder Richard G. Scott was our devotional speaker and it was the most amazing meeting I have ever been in in my whole life! I sang in the choir again (sorry Molly, but I love it) so I had a really good seat. We were waiting to see who the speaker would be when in walked Elder Scott and all 2,300 missionaries stood up in reverence of the Apostle. I could feel the power he carried as a special witness of Christ right when he entered the room. There is definitely a special place in my heart for Elder Scott because of the amazing experience I had my senior year of high school when he came to our Stake Conference and President Allen was released...an experience that I will never forget. Anyway, Elder Scott began his talk by asking all of the missionaries who were learning a new language to raise their hands. He then bestowed upon all of us an Apostolic blessing of the gift of tongues-that we would be able to share the message of the restored gospel and bear testimony easily. The comfort that came from that blessing was overwhelming and so powerful! Just what I need! The rest of the meeting he talked about following the spirit and he shared some really amazing personal experience. Half way through he bestowed upon all of us another apostolic blessing of protection that we would all be safe from any harm as we live obediently and have faith. I am so thankful for those two blessings and the authority that he carries to bestow those upon me personally, as well as all of the other missionaries. Time is running out and I have so much more I would like to share but I will write more letters to you later! Thank you all for taking the time out of your busy and hectic lives to pray for me and write to me. I love you all so much! I love being a missionary and I have seen so many miracles take place, mostly within my heart, while I have been at the MTC. I know that the Savior lives. Hearing from one of his apostles, a special witness of him, strengthened my testimony! I know he loves each of us! I love you! Love, Zuster Sharp

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday, August 19: Fifth Week at the MTC

Hello Family! I am sure you are interested to know why I left the MTC for a few hours this week, let me just say it has been a crazy week! As you know, I haven't been feeling tip top since I got to the MTC. I think that was mostly because of stress and a new environment but over the last 2 weeks it has progressively gotten worse. I have had this nasty cough and I just haven't been able to get feeling better. Last Saturday I woke up at 5:50 to go to the gym early with one of the sisters in my room and my ears were really plugged up, as well as my sinuses. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it though so I went to gym. After running a couple of laps around the track I was really struggling to breathe so I decided to take it easy and walk for the rest of gym time. After a shower and getting ready I still felt crumby and decided I better go to the health clinic but since it was Saturday it was closed. I went to the front desk right before breakfast and told them I was not feeling well and they put me on the phone with a doctor. I explained to him how I was feeling and he said that I needed to leave the MTC and go to the BYU urgent health center. Zuster Fritz and I headed out at about 8:45 on the shuttle (it was the first time being in a car for 4 weeks...weird!) but I was worried that I was just being a wimp and that I just had a cold. When I met with the doctor she looked in my ears and said I had really bad ear infections and a sinus infection. It really was good news because she said she would put me on an anti-biotic. Then she listened to my breathing. She couldn't believe how bad I sounded! She had me get a chest x-ray and come to find out I have pneumonia as well. Three in one! She wrote me out a perscription and the MTC shuttle took us to Rite-Aid so I could fill my prescription. Zuster Fritz and I were at Rite-Aid for an hour by ourselves and we didn't really know what to do being out in the real world...that was weird too! Finally we returned to the MTC at about 11:00 and headed to class. I was feeling pretting crumby...aches, headache, stuffy...so after lunch our zone leaders gave us permission to go back to the residence hall and rest for a few hours. I slept from 1:45 until 5:45 and I definitely felt guilty for sleeping that long but I knew that my body needed it. Mom, I wanted you too! After the sleep I felt a little better and it seemed like the anti-biotic was kicking in. I went to class for the rest of the night and felt okay. Sunday I felt good and Monday too but yesterday I was feeling to great. THe health clinic made a follow up appointment for me to see them yesterday afternoon. The doctor is still pretty concerned about my pneumonia so he put me on a stronger anti-biotic, an inhaler, and a cough syrup. Hopefully that medicine will do the job! Today I am feeling pretty good. I can't wait to get all of the way better so I can totally focus on the work...I want to get all of my energy back! Anyway, thank you Grandma and Brooke for your letters...there was nothing that made me feeler better while I was sick than to hear from family! I love you all so much! I know that even though you didn't know about me being sick, your prayers in my behalf have helped me so much! I do have to say that the sickness was all worth the adventure of leaving the MTC for a few hours...it probably won't happen again while I am here! I have another appointment to meet with the doctor on Friday to see if I am making improvements with my pneumonia so I will keep you posted! This experience really helped me turn to the Savior and rely on him! He knows how we feel in every situation and therefore knows how to help and comfort us. I definitely have felt his love over the past week when I really needed it. I am so thankful for the Atonement! It does work miracles! So how are you all doing? I hope you received my letters this past week! Brooke, did you get yours? Everyone else? E-mail? I always get worried that the e-mail doesn't make it or that the letters get lost and I don't want you to think that I have forgotten you! How was Oregon mom and dad? I can't wait to hear all about it...Wild River, Jack in the Box, Dutch Bros.(just kidding)! Despite me being sick this week has been amazing. I can't believe I only have three and a half weeks here! I love being a missionary so much! This past week we taught our progressing investigator and she prayed with us! It was so exciting! Seeing other people come close to their Savior and Heavenly Father brings more joy to me than I ever thought possible. THe dutch is coming and I just have to thank Heavenly Father for the blessings I have received in learning the language! I have been studying the book of Matthew this week and after reading about a lot of the miracles he performed on the earth I started thinking about the miracles he has performed in my life. I started to reflect on those miracles and write them down...one that really stuck out to me was when my eyesight was healed after wearing the patch for several months! THat was definitely not by luck but a pure miracle from the Lord. I know that he still works miracles and wants to bless us if we will let him! I love you so much and hope that you have a wonderful week! I keep you all in my prayers! Love, Zuster Sharp p.s. Carli, I will never call anyone a walking germ again...

Wednesday, August 12: Fourth Week at the MTC

Hello family and friends! Wednesday's come around so fast and I can't believe this Wednesday marks my 4th week of being in the MTC! Time has just flown by and I know it will go even faster with the 4 1/2 weeks I have left. I head out on September 14th to Belgium and I have very mixed feelings about it. I am excited of course to get out there and share the gospel but I feel like I will never be ready enough in 4 1/2 weeks with the language and my ability to teach effectively by the spirit in a manner that I can represent the Lord. But I find comfort in knowing that since this is his work he will make of me what I need to be...I have definitely already seen that happen here at the MTC. I have to say that I LOVE the MTC! It has been such a humbling experience here to see all of my weaknesses and faults but I have seen how I can be changed through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. This is his work. He is not just on the sidelines cheering me on. He is playing right beside me. Lots of miracles have taken place this week and I have felt the love of my Savior and Heavenly Father through the spirit. Monday our class had our first English fast and spoke Dutch all day! It was difficult to not be able to express myself as well as I wanted to and I know I made a lot of mistakes as I did speak but I promised my Heavenly Father that I would do my best to speak the language all day. I can now see that because of my committment to my promise I have been so blessed to better understand others as they speak in Dutch and I can communicate so much more! What a miracle and tender mercy! I can even teach the first lesson in Dutch now (a pretty basic and simple version) and I am progressing! On Monday we had the TRC again and the scenario was that we had to help our investigators move and teach them how to pray in Dutch. It went so well! After the Dutch part, Zuster Fritz and I had to teach one investigator a 35 minute lesson on the Plan of Salvation, and focus on the Word of Wisdom. The spirit was so strong as we catered to the needs of our investigator, used scriptures to help our investigator understand the Plan, and testified of the love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for her. The love I felt for the investigator by the end of the lesson was beyond anything I have ever felt before. I wanted her to be baptized and I wanted her to partake of the joy that comes from following the example of the Savior! I have really tried to focus on developing the Christlike attribute of charity this week because I know I am lacking in that area. The Sunday night fireside was focused on charity (another tender mercy) and the speaker told us to develop charity by asking ourselves not only "What would Jesus do?" but "How would Jesus feel?" This struck me with so much power and has been on my mind since the fireside. I love to serve others and I find it easy to act in the way I should towards others but I do not always have my thoughts and feelings focused on doing things out of love but because of the need to be obedient. I need to forget myself and get to work. I need to have my actions AND my heart totally immersed in serving the Lord and in loving the people that I serve. In Moses 7:33 the Lord lays out the 2 essential things that we all must do during our time on earth to become like him so we can return to him. He says, "that they should love one another and that they should choose me, their Father." This is reaffirmed in Matthew 22:37-40. President Ezra Taft Benson said, "When we put God first all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives." This is so true! As I have tried to put God first in my life here at the MTC, everything has fallen into its proper place or has gone out of my life. This gospel is the most important thing! It is what enables us to have joy and return to our Heavenly Father and live with our families forever! I am so excited for that day! Sorry, I always seem to ramble on about my studies but I love the things I am learning. This week has been a great one! I love all of the new sisters that came into the MTC last Wednesday and we have a really close and unified District and Branch! I am happy and doing well. I love all of you so much! I thank you once again for your prayers and letters...they help me so much! I am growing and changing everyday through the Atonement of Jesus Christ...I have a lot more to change but that is what is so wonderful about the infinite atonement of the Savior. I love my teachers here-Brother Bond and Zuster Spencer. They are amazing! I love the Dutch language and I am excited (and nervous) to have another English fast tomorrow and on Friday. I hope this e-mail finds you well and happy. I think about you and love you...my prayers are with you too! I am way excited because Tish (Sister Miles) will be coming in here today! It will be wonderful to share in this missionary experience together! IF I remember correctly, Mom and Dad, you left to Oregon today! I hope you are having a safe trip and I can't wait to hear all about it! I love you so much! And the family picture is awesome! I show it off to everyone! Thanks for sending that so quickly! You are awesome! Have a great week! Love, Zuster Sharp

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wednesday, August 5: Third Week at the MTC

Dear Family, Can you believe it!? I have been here exactly three weeks! Time has just flown by and I am already starting to stress about not having enough time here in the MTC to feel fully prepared to speak the language and teach the gospel, but I guess that is just how it goes! I will just have to make the most of the time I have. This week has been excellent and I appreciate so much the love and support that you keep on giving. The letters and the prayers mean more to me than you will ever know! I read and re-read them and they give me so much strength. Mom, the zucchini bread was amazing and my companions loved it too! That was so thoughtful of you to let me enjoy some of the fruits of the garden...I wish I could still help out with the gardening so it means so much to me that you took the time to send the bread! It was absolutely delicious! And I love how you related it to the work I am doing right now...so cute! I love knowing that everything is alright at home and that everyone is happy. I hope that you know that I am happy too! Things are really picking up here with the language and the teaching. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed but I always feel great comfort from the Spirit. Last Saturday I had the opportunity to make calls in the Referall Center to people who requested a Book of Mormon, Bible, or church video. I called three people to see if they received their Book of Mormon and how they felt about it. It was awesome! One gentleman stayed on the phone with me for 20 minutes and allowed me to share my testimony and some scriptures from the Book of Mormon with him. It was a little nerve-racking but awesome to do the real thing instead of just practicing on pretend investigators. He didn't commit to having the missionaries come to his home but he said he would look more into the Book of Mormon. The next lady I called said that she would like a copy of the Book of Mormon so I shipped one out to her. I hope that I can get in touch with her once more so I can see what she thinks about it. This experience got me so excited to share the gospel and I was amazed at the love I developed for these to people in just minutes of talking to them on the phone. I know I really am going to love the people of the Netherlands so much! Last night we had a devotional and President Merril Bateman and his wife came and spoke to us. He shared a story about the song, "Because I Have Been Given Much." He said that in Peru there was a time when food prices rose so high that the people could not afford to eat and were starving to death. The Church Humanitarian Services sent planes full of food to help them. Once the food arrived Elder Bateman went there for a stake conference and was amazed at how giving the people were even though they didn't have that much. They had spiritual nourishment and that was enough to share with others around them. I have been so blessed with that spiritual nourishment as well and I know that I must share that with others. This is a gospel of joy, happiness, and love! Bishop Williams sent me the ward newsletter and I loved the talk that Brother Jentzsch shared in his message, especially this part..."I come out this evening with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I'm suggesting that we accentuate the positive. I'm asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort...What I am suggesting and asking is that we turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good in the land in times which we live, that we speak of one anothers virtues more that we speak of one anothers faults, that optimism replaces pessimism. Let our faith replace our fears" (President Hinckley). I love this quote! It made me reevaluate my attitude and recommit myself to be more joyful and positive, just like the Savior is and wants us to be! We find joy in living like him and through his amazing and infinite Atonement. Example is so crucial in missionary work and I know that I need to be a better example of joy so that others will be interested in hearing the message of the restored gospel. THank you all for your examples of joy and optimism! You inspire me to be better everyday! I am way excited because I will have three new sisters coming in today that I am over. I can't wait to meet them and serve them in any way I can to make there MTC experience the best that it can be. THe language is coming but it is difficult. I am trying to speak as much as I can so I can improve but it is taking time to settle in. But with all I have learned so far I know that the Lord has blessed me so much! I love my teachers, Brother Bond and Zuster Spencer! THey are awesome...but they think that out of any missionary in our class I will be the most likely to get in a wreck on my bike...I don't know how I always send the message that I am clumsy like that...oh well! I love you so much! You are in my prayers! I will send a letter and pictures home today! THe gospel is true and is so amazing! I love being a missionary! It is the best thing ever! Love, Zuster Sharp

Wednesday, July 29: Second Week at the MTC

Dag! Hoe gaat het met u! Ik ben ouitstekand! I am absolutely loving the MTC! The first week was definitely an adjustment week and now I am smooth sailing! This past week was wonderful and I learned so much. To start out, last Wednesday right after I e-mailed you our district went to the Provo temple. Because one of the solo sisters wanted to do initiatories instead of an endowment session, Sister Fritz and I offered to go with her. We got out of the temple about an hour earlier than the rest of our district and started to walk back down to the MTC. We noticed that there was a huge tour bus parked in the front of the temple with lots and lots of tourists walking around the temple grounds. We didn't pay much attention to who they were or where they were from until we noticed that they were all speaking a foreign language. As we walked closer we realized that they were speaking Dutch! I introduced myself and Sister Fritz in Dutch and told them that we were missionaries going to the Netherlands. It just so happens that they were all from the Netherlands and were on a church history tour! It's a good thing that they were quite fluent in english because after the introduction I didn't know anything else to say in Dutch. They took pictures with us and wrote down there names and wards so we can find them when we get to the Netherlands. They were all such nice people and I instantly had a great love for them. That was definitely a tender mercy from the Lord because it just added more to my testimony that the Netherlands is the place I am supposed to serve for the next year and a half. I am so thankful that the solo sister wanted to do initiatories and that we went with her because if we hadn't, we would have missed meeting those people. It was so awesome! Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were huge language learning days and were a bit overwhelming but looking back I realize how much help I received from the Lord in helping me pick up and understand so many new things. It is amazing that I can listen to a conversation in Dutch and understand almost everything that is said. It is taking a lot of studying and dedication but I am being so blessed! Sunday was awesome! It is my favorite day of the week here at the MTC. It is a day of rest and rejuvination and the Spirit is here so powerfully. Every Sunday night we have a fireside with all 2,300 missionaries and this past Sunday President Allen came and spoke! I have such a great love for him and when his picture popped up on the screen I couldn't wait to hear what he had to say. He talked about putting our whole heart and souls into missionary work; not just being at the MTC most of the time and letting our thoughts wander home some of the time, but being here 100%! I committed to myself that night that I was going to do this for the Lord. It reminded me of the song, "I feel my Savior's Love" in the line that says, "I offer him my heart, my Shepherd he will be!" Ever since I made that committment to serve him with all of my heart, my mind has been focused and my ability to learn the language and be a more effective teacher has increased to much. The joy that I have felt over the past few days has been incredible. It is not joy for myself anymore, but joy in bringing others unto Christ. After the fireside I went up to the front to say hi to President Allen and he was so friendly to me. At first he didn't recognize who I was until he glanced at my name tag and then he freaked out. He told me to tell all of you hello. It was wonderful to see someone I knew. On Monday we had another appointment at the TRC where we had to do a 7 minute contact in Dutch. It was scary and a little nerve-racking, but Sister Fritz and I survived! After the contacting, we had to teach the first lesson to an investigator for 35 minutes in English. Everything was going well and the spirit was really strong until I had a coughing attack (I have had a cough and sore throat for the past week), lost my voice, and me and my companion had to leave the room to go and get a drink so I could continue on with the lesson. How embarrassing! Atleast the investigator was understanding and the end of the lesson turned out okay. Tuesday was wonderful! Tuesday night we have a devotional with a member of the 12 or of the 70. This week we had Elder Dellenbach from the 70 and he talked all about the Book of Mormon. Sister Fritz and I sang in the choir for the devotional and we are quite the MTC celebrities now because they zoomed in on our two faces while we were singing and projected it on the big screen. People keep coming up to us and asking us if we were the ones on the screen...it is pretty awesome to be celebrities around here! Elder Dellenbach spoke about the Book of Mormon and the miracle of it. It is a miracle and I know that the Book is the word of God and the evidence that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. The church is true and I love being able to testify of that! I hope you know that I love you! Your prayers and letters mean the world to me! Sorry so short but I only have a half an hour to write. You are in my prayers as well! The church is ture! Love Zuster Sharp

Wednesday, July 22: First Week at the MTC

Lauren has the opportunity to email us each week. Every Wednesday we look forward to hearing from her. I'm sure her letters will brighten your day, just as they have ours!


Dag! Hoe gaat het met u? I hope things are absolutely wonderful! I cannot express to you how much your letters, prayers, and support mean to me! Each day I think of you and thank my Heavenly Father for blessing me with such amazing family and friends. I can't believe I have been at the MTC for a week today! Some days have been a little long but overall the week has flown by. 1 week down, 8 more to go! I totally feel for the new missionaries that are coming in today...I am glad I will never have to go through that whole process again. But don't get me wrong, I do love the MTC and I am learning so much! My companion, Zuster Fritz, is awesome and we get along so well. She is from South Jordan and it turns out that we have many mutual friends. It has been such a blessing to have her as my companion because she has such a strong testimony and a vast knowledge of the gospel and has picked the language up very quickly. She really helps me out a lot! Sometimes I get overwhelmed when she can carry on a whole conversation in Dutch and I stand there not understanding a word they are saying but I just have to remind myself that she studied three years of German, lived in Germany for a period of 6 months, and took a class on Dutch linguistics because German and Dutch are very similar. The Lord really has blessed me as I have tried to learn the language. I said my first prayer in Dutch in behalf of our District (which was way scary but a good experience), I can introduce myself in Dutch, and I can bear my testimony. I am picking up more words and beginning to understand the sentence structure as I SYL (speak your language...Brandt will understand what this means). It really is amazing that I am beginning to think using Dutch words and I sometimes say words like "well" as "vell" because the w's are v's in Dutch. Anyway, the language is coming and I am so excited about it! I love the district I am in and I am so impressed by the Elders. Elder Johnson and Elder Matthews are in the classroom with Zuster Fritz and I, and we have about 8 other Danish Elders in our district. Sunday was an amazing day and really pumped me up for this week. I was called as the Coordinating Sister for our zone, which means I am in charge of taking care of the sisters in our zone, I participate in Branch Presidency meetings, and I get to help with the orientation of the new missionaries. I am so excited to be able to serve the Lord in this calling! My time is totally filled here at the MTC! I don't believe I have ever used my time more effectively in my whole life! We study from 7 in the morning until 9:30 at night. Although many missionaries struggle with the sleeping schedule, I am doing very well! I feel like I am getting more sleep than I ever did while at school or home. The spirit is very strong here and it is such a neat place! THe showers are not as great as I said they were in my first letter...I think they just clean them right before the new missionaries come in...thank you so much for the shower flip-flops mom! You are a life saver! The food is okay...I miss good old home cooking but the food here will just have to do! I had a few rough days when I first arrived here, not being home sick but just missing home! I think Wednesday night was the first time it really hit me that I wouldn't be coming home for a year and a half! The letters you gave to me when you dropped me off sustained me throughout the week and gave me a lot of comfort. I know I was also blessed by your prayers and love! Thank you! I have had many other awesome experiences and adventures this week, including getting my blood drawn (they had to poke me three times to get a good vein so they gave me a stuffed animal, getting a stool sample (I will let you know that my mission and the Taiwan mission are the only ones that require this and for anyone who knows me, you know this was very difficult!), and having my testimony strengthened like never before! Wednesday is my P-day and that is the only day I can write home. I only get 30 minutes on the computer so my e-mails might be really short but I will write back to you. "Dear Elder" is awesome (Brooke and Kristin) which might be helpful in writing. My time is ticking and we get to go to the temple (I still get to go to the temple on Wednesdays-what a blessing!) so I want you to know that I love you and I will be sending a letter off today as well! I love the gospel and I know that it is true! I know that families can be together forever! I am so thankful for the resoration of the gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith! I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve as an official missionary for the Lord and invite his children to come unto Christ to find the greatest joy and peace available! I love you and pray for you everyday! Tot ziens!Love,Zuster Lauren Sharp

Lauren's First day in the MTC

We received a letter from Lauren just a few days after she went into the MTC. Even though she had been gone only a short time, we were anxiously waiting to hear how she was doing!

Dear Family,
I survived my first day at the MTC! Actually, it was wonderful! My companion is Zuster Fritz who I had met a couple of months ago at Katie Jenkins' farewell and we get along really well. She already has a lot of the language down because she has been studying German for the past 3 years at BYU and German and Dutch are very similar. She will definitely be teaching me a lot.

After you dropped me off I went to orientation until 9:15 with dinner time in there somewhere. I still don't remember everything they taught us but I did feel the spirit of missionary work and I can't wait to dive into the language!

My branch presidency is awesome! President Lofferty, President Creer, and President Chamberlain and their wives spent time teaching us basic rules and the importance of obedience. They called Zuster Fritz as the senior companion and I am the junior companion. I know I will learn a lot from her!

The top 5 things that I have learned so far at the MTC are as follows:
1. They do have enough hangers for ALL of my stuff
2. The cafeteria food isn't that bad
3. The showers are really clean (which is good since I forgot my shower flip-flops)
4. Everyone is very nice...especially the senior missionaries
5. The church is even more amazing than I ever knew!

I know this is a short letter and I promise to write again when I get a chance! I love you and miss you but I know this is where the Lord needs me! Thanks for your prayers, love, and support! I read my first letter tonight and it gave me so much comfort and happiness! Write to you soon!

Love,
Zuster Sharp




Saying Goodbye at the MTC

With the new curbside drop-off, there was hardly time to say goodbye, let alone shed any tears. The excitement of missionary work was definitely in the air.

Farewell Lunch

The family met at Training Table for a farewell lunch before Lauren headed to the MTC. It was a bittersweet occasion as everyone said their goodbye's.







Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lauren's Setting Apart

Lauren was set apart as a full-time missionary on Tuesday, July 14, 2009. All of her immediate family and grandparents were there. Brother and Sister Jentzsch were also in attendance. President Barlow, from the Stake Presidency, conducted and set her apart. It was such a spiritual experience for all of us. It was very uniting and we will never forget the feelings that we all had. Everyone was able to share thoughts and feelings with Lauren as well as give her some advice to take with her on her mission. Lauren shared a scripture with us and bore her testimony. Mom was made Lauren's first missionary companion. Thanks to LaRae and family for watching all of the little kids...that helped out so much!







Lauren's Farewell

Lauren's Farewell on Sunday, July 12 was a great day! She had so much support from family and friends. Thanks to all who came to celebrate her call to serve and to say goodbye!