Thursday, January 7, 2010

January 4, 2009: HAPPY NEW YEAR! (part 2)

Happy New Year! I hope that you have already had a great start to 2010...can you believe it! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! Expect a card in the mail over the next few days! Thank you so much for your letters, Dad, Mom, Brooke, Carli, and Corbin! Sorry that my e-mail is coming so late today! I was planning on having a preparation day to just write letters all day especially because I was sick in bed the whole p-day last week, but we got a call from the Zone Leaders last night and they asked us if we would be willing to host a Zone p-day here in Zwolle. We spent the whole day at the church playing games and eating with about 20 missionaries in our Zone and we had a blast but I really just want to write to you all!!! I hope that through my e-mail you can feel my love and know that next p-day there will be a lot of letters sent from Zwolle in the direction of West Jordan, Utah! Will you also tell Kris I appreciate her card and the money and Brett and Barb that I received there package and I am so thankful! I will be sending something out to them too! Thank you so much for all of your prayers. I am feeling so much better! I now have a little bit of a cold but I have been loading up on the vitamin C and I can tell that it is getting better and better! It has snowed like crazy here in Zwolle over the past couple of days and the temperature has dropped quite a bit but the work is going great! On Saturday night we were at the church setting up some shelves so that missionary pamphlets are accessible for the members and we looked outside at about 7:30 and there was about 6 inches of snow withing an hour and a half. We couldn't ride our bikes home so we took the bus. That night someone tried to still my bike and broke the lock but luckily didn't succeed. We are going to have to carry my bike over to a member's home tomorrow to have them saw it off and I'll have to buy a new lock but that is definitely better than a whole bike! Maybe it is just a blessing in disguise...Heavenly Father doesn't want me to fall in the snow once more! Due to the snow we only had one hour of church on Sunday and we had a small group of members, but Willeke still ended up coming and we had one of the most powerful testimony meetings I have ever been in! Zwolle is changing and all of the members talked about starting a new year of missionary work in their testimonies. We worked a lot with the members this past week to set goals for the New Year and we are all so excited! Zwolle will be getting an actual church building this year and is hoping to turn into a ward rather than a branch so I know that the Lord has some big plans. New Year's Eve we had to be inside by 5:00 because of the danger of fireworks...fireworks in the Netherlands are crazy!!! People are shooting them off non-stop for the whole week before New Year's and they even throw them at bikers. Luckily we didn't have any bad experiences but we had a wonderful night inside setting goals for the New Year. I am so excited for 2010 to become better and to dedicate a whole year to serving the Lord. The Spirit helped me to set goals that will help me accomplish the work that the Savior wants me to accomplish...SO GREAT! We have totally lost contact with Kevin but we are doing all we can to make contact with him again. Willeke is doing great and we are meeting with Kevin again tonight. Ilse is our new investigator. I actually met her in the centrum back in September, knocked on her door in October, and then met with her a couple of times over the past couple of weeks. She has called us a couple of times and we were actually able to give her a copy of the Book of Mormon on Friday. We are going back with a member this week and we feel really good about the appointment. Everything seems to be falling into place with her! The work is so good!!! I love you so much and keep you in my prayers. I know that the Savior lives and that he loves each one of us. I hope that you had a wonderful time with the New Year's party, blessing, birthday, etc.! HAve a great week!Love,Zuster Sharp

December 30, 2009: HAPPY NEW YEAR! (Part 1)

Hello! Sorry that this e-mail is coming a few days later than expected...I was sick! I was so worried about not being able to e-mail you on Monday but I am so thankful that Tieneke was able to e-mail you and that you responded back to her. She called yesterday morning to check in on me again and tell me that she had heard from you. I am feeling much better now! Last week my stomach was not feeling good and really early Monday morning I woke up and just lost everything! Not a very pretty picture, I know, but I think that is what I get for having 11 dinner appointments in 6 consecutive days. I have never eaten so much in my entire life! Monday we stayed in the whole day because I was really weak and had a little bit of a fever but luckily by yesterday morning I was feeling good enough to be able to get up, get ready, and make it to Apeldoorn by 9:30 to have interviews with President Brubaker and training with the Zone Leaders. I was so glad and thankful that I didn't have to miss interviews! I have to tell you that I am just gaining a stronger and stronger testimony of the power of prayer, especially of the prayers of others. I have told you countless times that I can feel your prayers, and I really can! I know that just about the time you received the e-mail from Tieneke and found out that I was sick, you started to pray for me that I would get better and I could feel it! It was so amazing! You all have so much faith and I am so blessed by your faith and actions! Thank you so much for the prayers you offer in my behalf! It was so good to talk to you on Christmas and that was the best present ever!!! I could hardly keep my emotions under control the whole time but that was only to be expected talking to the ones I love the very most! You all sounded so great and it was wonderful to be able to hear from each one of you. Your words and encouragement just gave me a boost and brightened my holiday season. I am so thankful for your expressions of love...I only wish that I could express my love for all of you more adequately. The time on the phone went by SO fast but I know that because we tried to be obedient to the 30 minute rule I was blessed to cherish that time and then refocus on missionary work with not too much homesickness! That is a huge blessing! I do have to say that I keep replaying the conversations we had in my head because they just motivate me to keep going. THAT WAS AWESOME! The rest of my Christmas was really great and I felt "home"for Christmas being here with the members and investigators. They all took such great care of us and we didn't spend more than an hour in our apartment from the 23 of December until the 27. They all had gifts for us and did all that they could to give us a really special experience for Christmas in the Netherlands. It really was a Christmas I will never forget! I learned such a wonderful lesson this Christmas because I wasn't able to give gifts like I normally would have. At times it was so hard to always be on the receiving end from you and the people here, and especially Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, but I read a talk from President Monson where he says that the best gift that we can give is a part of ourselves. That was all I had to give this year-my testimony, love, and service. It was such a humbling and blessed experience to do all I could to give of myself. I am so thankful for the many experiences and opportunities that come along with serving the Lord full-time! Missionary work was put on hold a little bit because of all of the holidays and people being out of town but we are trying to get it up and going again! I will keep you posted on our investigators as we make contact with them again! We spent Christmas Eve with Nanda and that was really special. We also had Willeke at church with us and she is still progressing. Zwolle is such a blessed place! Thank you so much for the wonderful Christmas package! I don't think that I was able to thank you enough for all of the wonderful things that you sent...sweaters(so cute!), scarves, gloves, ear muffs, socks, scarf book (WOW), CTR rings (I have already shared a couple-so cool!)...I was so blessed! I felt so much love this Christmas season, with the many packages, e-mails, letters, phone call! I received 14 Christmas letters yesterday and I just couldn't believe! I am so overwhelmed by the love and the service from others. Thank you so much! Sorry this e-mail is all over the place but I didn't have much time to prepare! Just know that I love you and you are always in my prayers! I hope that you have a wonderful New Year and enjoy time together! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! Your birthday card will be coming a little late ( I feel so bad!) but I couldn't get it sent out on Monday because I was sick! Know that I love you and will be praying that you have a wonderful birthday! You are the best mom ever! Have a great day!Love,Zuster Sharp

December 21, 2009: I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...Oh wait, I'll have one!!!

Merry Christmas from Zwolle!!! I hope that you are all so excited for Christmas! I sure am! It will be so wonderful to talk to you. I am pretty sure that that will be the greatest Christmas present of my whole life to be able to hear your voices. I received your e-mail, Mom, and I think that it would work best if you called when it was 7:00 pm in the Netherlands, so I think that would be 11:00 am in Utah. We will be going with Tineke and her children to Groningen Christmas morning for a church service there and breakfast. We will then be back in time to go to dinner at Familie Spijkerman's at 4:30 and we are planning on staying there until 6:30. They live really close to the church so we will just go there right after and then I will get to hear from you!!!! If the family is there I would love to take a few minutes and say hi to everyone but I want to talk actually have a good conversation with you, not just short "hellos". I hope that that makes sense! Ohhh...I am getting butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it! Thank you so much for the Christmas e-mails, Mom, Dad, Brooke, Kelly, Marianne, and Jordan! I am so excited to read them! Dad, I received your package last Tuesday. Thank you so much! What an amazing present!!! It has been so much fun to open a new letter every day during my personal study and read the scriptures and your words of love and advice. The Christmas tree and those letters are the two greatest gifts ever! I have decided that instead of using the letters for the 12 days of Christmas, I am going to use them as the 12 months in the Netherlands. I am going to focus on one a month for the coming year! IT will be so amazing! Thank you!!! We have gotten so much snow in Zwolle! We even had a snow day yesterday...NO CHURCH! We were all ready to go to church and I was so excited to go (I love going to church here!) and then we got a call at about 8:30 from the RS president telling us that it was cancelled due to the bad weather. We looked outside and it was a total blizzard! We spent most of the day inside, making cookies, writing Christmas cards, making phone calls, and putting together Christmas presents for investigators. By 3:00 we were going stir crazy so we got bundeled up and headed outside to do some finding. It was still snowing pretty hard but it was so much fun to be out in the weather. We took the bus at 5:00 to Familie Spijkerman's for dinner and made it back by 9:00. This morning we took our bikes out and it is definitely tricky to ride in the snow but it makes for a lot of laughs! And it was just what I was dreaming for...a white Christmas! We had lots of appointments this week! We met with Kevin twice and he is still so excited to be baptized! We gave him a Book of Mormon on Tuesday night and he had already read to 1 Nephi 8 by Friday afternoon. He has a lot of questions but you can see that he is such a light in his eyes as he continues to read and learn more. We also taught Mike this week and that appointment went really well too! He hasn't come to church yet because he has a hard time getting up early but hopefully he will come to the ward Christmas party tonight! We should have quite a few new investigators there because a lot of the members are bringing non-member friends. It will definitely be a great missionary tool! On Saturday we went to another church's Christmas service and I felt a lot like Carli did when she attended those other church services for her school project. I have realized that my face is very honest and you could definitely see on my face that I was a little scared with the prayers and the dancing and the singing...I am so thankful to be a member of our church! We had a lot of success, though, talking to people and hopefully we have some of them coming tonight too! Well, I love you so much! It is not so hard to close this e-mail knowing that I will be talking to you in 4 days! I know that Jesus Christ lives and that he is our Savior and Redeemer! I pray that you will all have a wonderful Christmas...I'll be thinking of you!Love,Zuster Sharp


Hello everyone! I hope that you had another wonderful week this Christmas season! Thank you so much for the e-mails, Mom, Dad, Brooke, and Heidi! I am so excited to read them! Brooke, your family Christmas picture and the picture of Carter are so adorable!!! Thanks for sending those! Í am so excited to be able to talk to you in less than two weeks! I forwarded the e-mail to you from president with the calling information-let me know if you received it. Can you believe that tomorrow is my 5 month mark?! Time is flying by! This was the most miraculous week ever! I am just going to jump right into telling you all that has happened. Last Monday night we had another lesson with Mike and he had read in the Book of Mormon and was really feeling good about things. He has had a hard life, full of war and difficulties, so he has a hard time understanding why God allows things like that to happen. But he is still anxious to find out if the church is true! We are going back to teach him tonight and we are going to extend the invitation to be baptized! Tuesday, Tineke invited us to her house to help her and her children decorate the Christmas tree. It was so much fun to be a part of that since I was able to help with the decorating at home. The Christmas spirit is so special! Wednesday we did a lot of service by helping Zr. Wallle clean up her backyard and by washing Willeke's windows. We also made a trip out to one of the members, Familie Ajubi, to have dinner and share a lesson. The members are so willing to help us and they are seeing miracles as well as they pray for and work for missionary experiences. Thursday, we made a trip to Groningen, about 1 1/2 hours north of Zwolle, to work with the sisters there for a day. One of them, Zuster Gulliver, has been sick for 7 days so we helped them get the work going there. I taught a young woman named Joanna with Zuster Ekstrom and she committed to being baptized! The spirit was so strong and it was such a tender mercy from the Lord to be able to help teach her. We stayed the night in Groningen and then left early to come back to Zwolle. Once we arrived back in Zwolle on Friday, we went to the big market in the city center to buy some fleece for our blanket making activity. We found a really good deal on the material and were able to purchase more than we were planning to with the budget that we had. We did some finding and then made some apple crisp for the activity. We took some time to make phone calls to remind people about the activity and we were just hoping and praying that people would show up. We rode our bikes to Nanda's to get a ride with her to the church and we were so excited to see that she was all ready to go, and still planning on going at all! Miraculously, 11 people showed up to our activity!!! That is unheard of for a RS activity in Zwolle with our branch of 50 people. We had a wonderful time and were able to get 5 blankets finished! Nanda was able to build up some relationships with the women in our branch and everyone really enjoyed it. We even had another new investigator, Ilse, show up for a few minutes just to see how it was going. I was so thankful and impressed by the members who did come because some of them had to travel 20-45 minutes to get there. After the activity, Nanda was excited to set up another appointment with us! Saturday we had set up an appointment to teach English lessons to an African man named Kevin and he committed to be baptized on January 2! He practically just fell into our lap because he just called us up one day and then at the beginning of our appointment he asked if he could be baptized! Zwolle is going to have their first baptism in about a year! Sunday, I had to give a talk in church!! We received a text from the first counselor in the Branch presidency on Tuesday night asking if we would be willing to speak. I was scared out of my mind because we hadn't had all of our personal study time through the week with going to Groningen and I just hadn't had much time to prepare. I prayed harder than I ever have in my life for the spirit and the gift of tongues and it was truly a miracle. After my first minute of my talk I didn't even look at my notes any more and my mouth was just openend. I was amazed and I could truly feel the spirit speaking through me. It was a very humbling experience. I talked about our baptismal covenants and I took up 15 minutes. I am so thankful for that opportunity because it helped my faith grow! Mehrdad, Willeke, and Kevin all showed up at church, as well as 2 inactive members! Yesterday afternoon we found 3 more investigators, a mom and her two sons! We will be meeting with them again on Wednesday! I love you so much and thank you for your prayers of faith! I pray for you too!Love, Zuster SHarp

December 7, 2009: I'm Staying in Zwolle!

Good morning! Another week has come and gone and I just found out....I am staying in Zwolle for another transfer!!! YAY! Yesterday evening and this morning were so intense, just hoping that the President or Assistants didn't call to tell me that I was going to another city. It was so hard at church yesterday, not knowing if it would be the last time I would be there with the people in the branch, or if I would still have another couple of weeks (maybe couple of months) to stay! I had some members here, Sister Knarren, Spijkermans, Tineke, Sister Walle, praying for me so I think it helped! No, but really, I know that I still have work to do here and I am so thankful for the tender mercy of the Lord in letting me stay in this amazing and wonderful city where I love the people so much! Before I jump into the miracles of my week, how was yours?! Your letters from last week were so wonderful and just boosted my day! Oh...and the Christmas tree!!!! That is so amazing!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH TO EVERYONE IN THE FAMILY! I think that that is the best Christmas gift I have ever received in my whole life! Your little messages made me laugh and made me cry and brought me such a feeling of love and gratitude. I can't imagine the work that went into making that but it just made my whole Christmas and it is something that I will cherish forever! What a special surprise! I had the most amazing week ever! So many miracles and so many things to look forward to! Monday night we looked someone up who was a Church Headquarters referral. He wasn't home but his mom was and she welcomed us in and we ended up having a great chat with her. He actually called us back yesterday and him and his girlfriend want to meet with us this coming week. It is very hopeful, especially when they make contact with us! We then had an interview with a young man who we met and wanted to learn more about the Mormons because he was writing an article about us for a class at school. He ended up taking a Book of Mormon and was really impressed that we are as weird as he thought we would be...horns, multiple wives...I love clearing up the misconceptions! We are going to have contact with him again this week! Tuesday we had lunch with a member in a little city called Dalfsen. She helped us pick out a street to go finding in her area and we had such great success! An older lady, Dickie, let us in and we talked to her about the Plan of Salvation. We don't have any contact information for her but she was the sweetest lady ever and hopefully she will have a desire to learn more and look us up! Tuesday night we headed to Amsterdam, to be a little closer to Den Hague for Zone Conference. It was fun to have a little bit of a slumber party with some other sister missionaries! Wednesday was Zone Conference and it was sooo amazing! It was wonderful to be back in the temple again and especially great with President and Sister Brubaker and 80 other missionaries all dressed in white. The session was wonderful and then we had a delicious lunch and conference afterward. The focus of the conference was on finding and I am so excited to change my view of missionary work. Zone Conference got me so pumped to recommit myself to being a better missionary! Thursday we did some service for Charrise, a woman who has been investigating for 30 years, did some finding, and had dinner with the Relief Society President and the 1st counselor in the Branch Presidency. Our appointment with Nanda fell through Thursday night so we found ourselves home a little early. I had a strong feeling to organize an activity to make fleece blankets but Zuster Wieland was not so excited about the idea because of the work of organizing it. I got on the phone and started calling the Branch President, RS president, and other members of the Branch, and despite my poor Dutch, the activity is going down this coming Friday and Nanda is driving us to the activity!!!! We are so excited and so are the branch members! Friday was another great day, and we made contact again with Mehrdad! Saturday was Sinter Klaas and we had a huge party with Familie Spijkerman! THey even had 2 Zwarte Pieten come! We received some gifts and just had a wonderful night. They take such good care of us! Sunday was amazing, as always. Willeka came to church and we are teaching Mike again tonight! The work is progressing and I am so excited! I love you so much and I pray for you! Love, Zuster Sharp

November 30: It's The Most Wonderful Time of Year!

Hey! How are you all doing? How fun to hear from so many of you today! First of all, CONGRATS JORDAN AND KRISTIN! What a fun surprise! I can't believe that you will have four little ones soon! I can hardly wait to hear what it will be. The family is growing so need to slow down and wait until I get home! Just kidding! You all keep me updated enough that I feel like I am there.
The pictures of Halloween and everything were so good to see. The kids all look so great (and so big!) in their costumes. We have Zone Conference this Wednesday at the Den Hague Temple (YAY!) and I am sure that I will get my Christmas package there but I will keep you updated!So did you have a Happy Thanksgiving, lip syncs, and Grandma and Grandpa's party? I hope that you had a wonderful weekend and enjoyed your time being together! I had a great week! Our numbers are really low for the number of investigators and lessons we have here in Zwolle but I am happy and I see that the work is moving forward! I just have to laugh when I receive your e-mails and you ask about investigators or potentials that we taught the week before (you are so good at staying interested and keeping up on the work here-it means so much to me) and I have to tell you that the appointment fell through or that they dropped happens almost every week so sometimes I am almost embarrassed! But I am not discouraged at all and I just keep trying! Miracles are happening and I just love the city of Zwolle! I know that I shouldn't ask you to do this, but transfers are next week and I would really like to stay here in Zwolle for at least one more transfer and for the Christmas season, so could you pray for me...either that I will stay here or that I will be excited to go to my next city...I am so anxioius to see what will happen. I have become really attached to this city but I know that the Lord will place me where he needs me most and that I will love whatever city I am called to serve in...but I really want to stay in Zwolle!We had a great Thanksgiving dinner with all of the missionaries in our Zone last Monday. It was so much fun to be together and I was really impressed by the delicious Thanksgiving dinner that the Elders pulled off! On Wednesday we had to make a trip down to Brussels for legality and that was a day long trip! It is 5 hours both ways in trains and trams and I got a little motion sick but there were lots of missionaries that were going down there so it was fun to be all together. It was especially fun to see and talk to Zuster Fritz and catch up on how she has been doing for the past couple of months. She is really having a hard time right now...I love her so much and I am so thankful that I was blessed to have her as a companion. On Thursday, all of our plans fell through and we were left with nothing to do for Thanksgiving. Luckily Tineke ended up inviting us over for some delicious panenkoeken...not quite the traditional Thanksgiving feast...but still a great holiday! Yesterday I ended up accompanying the YW in the Sacrament meeting program and it went over really well! I have built up such strong relationships with the members...I love them! We actually talked to a couple of them who shared experiences with us about how they have had missionary experiences based on the commitments we have given cool! I feel like my work in Zwolle right now is to build up and strengthen the members and help unify the branch so they are ready to receive new members. We are seeing success and bringing others unto Christ. We had 2 appointments with Mike this week and he is our only progressing investigator right now. He is really serious about the Book of Mormon and is finding answers to questions he has had all of his life.I love you so much! I hope that this e-mail finds you all well! I truly feel the power of your prayers and you are always in mine! Have a great week!

Love, Laur