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