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 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 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 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

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 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

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 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