Friday, November 27, 2009


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!