Monday, April 26, 2010

I love the sunshine!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

How are you all doing!!!? Are you enjoying this wonderful spring weather? Can you believe it is almost May? Yesterday as I was sitting in Primary during Singing Time a little boy asked if we could all sing "I Love to See the Temple". As we were singing I started thinking about how long ago it was that I went through the temple for the first time and that was exactly one year ago yesterday. That really hit me how fast time is going...and I don´t think it is going to slow down!
Thank you so much for your e-mails! Mom, I got the package on Saturday! Oh my goodness!!! THANK YOU! First of all, I just had to laugh with the camel! That is so cute! And then all of the piano lesson stuff! On Saturday night we went to a dinner at the church and I saw Familie Fridsma and Gabriel and told them all about the things that you sent! They are so excited too. They wanted me to thank you from them as well. Piano lessons are going to be really great this week! THANK YOU!
Well, I survived the week! It was a little bit hectic but everything went down really well and it was very enjoyable. For the institute dinner we did end up having to just do scones because we couldn´t find the ingredients for all of the other recipes. Everything was going well with the preparations on Thursday until I started cooking the scones and they just did NOT work! I started to panic a little but we made a quick decision to send someone to the store to buy tortilla chips and do a taco salad instead. Joanne was willing to go and luckily dinner was ready to be served right on time. It tasted really good too! We served ice cream and American chocolate chip cookies for dessert and we even had Berber come for the dinner and the lesson! It was a really great night!
The Primary lesson and talk went really well too! Thank you so much for your prayers...they helped so much! I wasn´t even nervous about either of them and I just had to trust that the Lord would help me to say and do what He wanted me to say and do. Now that it is all over I am feeling a little project less so I am already thinking about doing a primary activity or mutual activity...I´ll let you know what is going down!
We set a baptismal date this week!!! Emily called us up and said that she wanted to start meeting with us again! We went over on Wednesday night and had a really amazing lesson about The Plan of Salvation. She had a lot of questions but she is really sincere. She really does want to know for herself. At the end of the lesson we invited her to be baptized on May 29 if she receives an answer that the Book of Mormon is true. She accepted and agreed to do that and she even prayed at the end of the lesson and asked Heavenly Father to help her prepare for that date if it is His will! We will be teaching her again this week! On Friday morning, Joanne, our most recent convert, called and asked us if we could come to her apartment to have lunch with her. She also called the Elders and invited them as well. Luckily, the Elders were able to find an inactive young adult, Marco, to come with them and we were able to switch around our schedule a little bit to make it all work out. We had a wonderful and spiritual lesson with Joanne and Marco about the importance of the Sacrament. When we left Joanne´s we were in a little bit of a hurry to be on time for our consecrated hour. We were biking really quickly and I just had a feeling that I needed to stop and give a card to someone. I pulled over and saw a lady and gave her the card. She thanked me for it but didn´t seem to have much interest. I started to wonder why the Spirit had prompted me to do so, or if it really was the Spirit. Anyway, we hopped back on our bikes just in time to see a progressing investigator ride by on her bike. We called out her name and she stopped and talked to us for a little bit. She explained that she had been in Africa for a couple of weeks so we hadn’t been able to get in contact with her for a long time. She told us that if we called her she would make an appointment with us. Last night we gave her a call and we have an appointment for Wednesday night! It was another experience for me to teach me how involved Heavenly Father is in this work. The Spirit prompted Joanne to invite us over for lunch so we would be biking in that area at just the right time. He prompted me to stop and give the card. His timing is absolutely perfect and He knows exactly what He is doing. I just need to be constantly ready to listen and act!
Saturday we played in the Volleyball Tournament that included all of the members of the church throughout the Netherlands and Belgium. We and the elders here were the only missionaries that were allowed to play because it was held here in Groningen! It was so much fun and my volleyball skills are getting a little bit better! My team won one match and lost the other three. Better luck next year! I was able to see so many members from Zwolle and that was such a blessing! It was really fun to be able to talk and visit with them for a little bit!
We were planning on going to our appointment with Swinda but she had to cancel right before because her son was really sick and she wasn´t feeling too great either. Luckily, she went with a member, Zr. Sprott, to a RS activity this week and also spent one other day with her. The members are just embracing her so she has a lot of contact with the church. We have another appointment scheduled with her for Wednesday!
We have been really blessed here in Groningen with the work! Miracles are happening all of the time! I know that Jesus Christ lives! I love you SO much and pray for you continually! Have a great week!
Love, Laur

Monday, April 19, 2010

Picking up speed! Time is flying!

Hello Fam! How was your week?! Is the weather just as beautiful there as it is here? Every day the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming and it is just so wonderful! Thank you so much for you're-mails! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Also, CONGRATS MARK AND HEIDI! I can´t wait to see pictures of cute little Jet!
We found three new investigators this week and we have so many appointments with potential investigators this coming week. I know that although they are not all directly related to the finding we did, the Lord blessed us for working and finding every day. I also know that faith and hope play such a huge role in the work! On Monday the Zone Leaders called and asked me if I would be willing to start an activity called "Pay it Forward" within the Zone. My assignment was that I had to find one new investigator and then call two missionary companionships within the Zone, share the miracle, and then ask them to "Pay it Forward" and repeat the process. I was willing to accept the challenge but I was a little nervous about really being able to find an investigator because we hadn´t found a new investigator in weeks. But, I went forward with faith and enthusiasm, trusting that the Lord would help me fulfill the inspired assignment. That night, the first door we knocked on, we found not only one but two new investigators! It really is believing that miracles will happen and doing all we can to make them happen!
I had the most amazing experience of my mission this week finding one of those investigators! I wish I could express to you how miraculous it was and allow you to experience a little bit of it yourself...Iwill try to do my best! On Tuesday we received a call from the Relief Society President and she gave us a referral. That, in and of itself, is amazing! She told us that there was a mother (Swinda) here in the Netherlands with her 6 year old son (Dave) who has cancer. They are from Curacao in the Carribean and have been here for 7 months while the son gets treated for the cancer. They are staying in the Ronald McDonald house here in Groningen and she was wondering if we could go and visit her. We were so excited and humbled with the opportunity to do so and promised her that we would make contact as soon as possible! She gave us the address of the house and also Swinda´s phone number. Zr. Stapleton and I prayed to know whether or not we should call first or just stop by and we felt really good about just stopping by the next day. When we got to the house, Swinda was not there. We called her right then and she told us that she was interested in meeting with us but that she would be at the hospital for the rest of the day with her son because he was having a six hour treatment of chemotherapy. We set up an appointment for Saturday. The whole week we tried to prepare ourselves for the appointment so that we could help Swinda through this difficult time and also share with her the message of the Restored Gospel. Saturday morning, during our studies, we made a long list of possible scriptures that we could share and felt inspired to take our hymn books to the lesson to sing some hymns with her. We showed up at the house at 3:30 and gave her a call so that she could let us in. She did not seem very happy that we were there and hestitated to really let us come in and sit down. We started up a conversation and she seemed to open up a little bit. She asked us which church we were from and when she realized that we were Mormons she was once again not too excited. She explained to us that many years ago Elders knocked on her door and gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon but she didn´t have any interest. Luckily, the Spirit was with us and she shared her story with us. There were a lot of emotions, as you can imagine the situation she is in. On top of her son having cancer, she and her husband are getting a divorce because he is in love with someone else. We just listened and cried with her and expressed our love and the love of Heavenly Father. At one point she asked, "Do you think that God would put me in this situation to help me come closer to Him?" After sharing that we believed that that was definitely possible, she said she did too. She told us that before our appointment she was busy and wanted to call it off. She searched for our number in her phone but could not find it anywhere. She then expressed her gratitude that we still came and shared with us that she knew that it was Satan trying to get her to cancel the appointment. She said that although this is the hardest thing she has ever been through, she has never been so happy in all of her life because she has a relationship with God now. She said she loves reading the scriptures now because they actually speak to her. We were able to teach her about the Book of Mormon and she committed to read it. She also talked about wanting to learn how to pray and receive answers instead of relying on a preacher in another church to be her connection to God. We told her that we could teach her how to do that and she could hardly wait to make another appointment! We are going back this Saturday. Before we left we sang two hymns for her and I know that angels were near. The Spirit was so strong and I felt an amazingly overwhelming love for her and could see just a glimpse of how much Heavenly Father loves her. He loves all of us. This is why I am here doing missionary work. Letting people know that God lives and loves them and wants them to return to Him and the only way to do that is through Jesus Christ. I love this work!
I love you all and pray for you! My talk, primary lesson and institute dinner are this week so I will let you know how it goes! I hope that you have a great week! Love,Laur

Monday, April 12, 2010

I am almost to the hump...WOW!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hello! How was your week? I don´t know if I remembered to tell you last week but this week is transfers! I am getting so old...I am already on my 6th transfer in the Netherlands. Well, I am staying here in Groningen with Zuster Stapleton! Once again, the confirmation came that it was the will of the Lord and I know that the Lord NEVER makes mistakes! It is always wonderful to be able to start a new transfer with new goals and ambitions...a fresh beginning! Thank you all so much for your e-mails and letters this past week. They helped me SO much! I can feel your love and concern through your letters and I am so thankful for such loving and caring family members and friends. I just can´t thank you all enough and I know that I will never be able to! You do so much for me.
I went to the temple on Thursday! It was really cool because I listened to the session in Dutch and I could understand so much of it. Walking into the temple was so wonderful! I miss that a lot because the Spirit is so extremely strong inside those walls. I know, once again, that the temple is truly the House of the Lord. It was so special to be able to witness President Brubaker doing the work of Zuster Stapleton´s father! We were all brought to tears as we saw him walk into the waters of baptism and be confirmed right after. The veil was extremely thin and I know that her father was so pleased with the work she is doing here in the Netherlands, especially for him. He is now the third member of her family who is a member of the church. I know that one day; many more will come into the church because of her. She has such a special calling! Anyway, the session was so beautiful and it brought back a lot of memories. I can´t help but look back on the unforgettable times I had with all of you within the temple...truly just like a piece of heaven! I am so thankful for the blessings of the temple. It was really cool because as we were walking out I glanced over to the recommend desk and Brother and Sister Spijkerman from Zwolle had just walked in! I ran over and gave her a huge hug and chatted with her for a few minutes. That was such a tender mercy from the Lord. I am hoping that that is how it is when we really go to heaven, being reunited with all of those we love so much!
We had a lot of miracles this week and a lot of great appointments. We got to go to the Bishop´s new house last Wednesday and do some sanding and painting before they move in. It was so much fun to do some hard labor and service is always so rewarding! We also had a few appointments with members for the first time and they are really fired up with helping out with missionary work. We actually even received 2 referrals this week from members! Things are going a little slow with investigators actually making progress but we are still working with Emily, Lotte, and Yvonne. We actually found a new investigator yesterday, Gob, and she comes from Thailand. We are meeting with her tomorrow!
I want you to know that I love you and I hope you are having a wonderful spring time! It is so beautiful outside! I think of you often and you are always in my prayers! Thank you for all you do, and especially for who you are! We are all children of God and He loves us so much! Love ya! Love, Laur
P.S. - Look out for some post!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy Easter and General Conference!!!

Hello Family! How was your Easter and General Conference weekend?! Thank you so much for the e-mails and...the EASTER PACKAGE! That was so wonderful! I actually got it on Friday and I was trying to be really patient and good and wait until Easter morning to open it, but I just couldn't do it! The shirts are SO cute (it was so fun to wear something new on Easter...made me think of being home), the ADORABLE jewelry, the CTR rings (that is just enough to give out as a handout for my primary lesson), and of course the cards filled with love and enthusiasm! My Easter couldn't have been better! We were at the church Saturday night and all of Sunday, and to make Easter a little bit more special in between the conference sessions I arranged a dinner with all of the Elders in my district. It was so much fun to have everyone bring a little something to add to the dinner and it turned out to be really delicious! We had Hawaain Haystacks and I was so impressed with all that the Elders did! Their mothers would be proud! Zuster Stapleton and I also made up some Easter bags for each of the Elders. We bought chocolate eggs and bunnies...but something was missing from that Easter treat sack. I just had to throw in a couple of pieces of fruit in each bag to really make it feel like Easter for me! I also just had to make some deviled eggs for dinner and they were also really tasty! But even better than all of the treats and dinner were the wonderful sessions of General Conference! It was so amazing to hear the powerful testimonies of the prophet and apostles as they bore testimony of the risen Lord, Jesus Christ. They didn´t share anything new but the Spirit that accompanied their words touched my heart and strengthened my testimony. I KNOW THAT JESUS CHRIST LIVES! What joy that sweet sentence gives! We were so blessed to have 2 investigators, Roger and Gea, come to conference. It was a very special experience for them and they received a lot of personal answers to the questions that have been on their minds. We are so blessed by a loving Heavenly Father to have a prophet on the earth today to lead us, teach us, and help us return back to our Heavenly Father.
Things are going really well here in Groningen! I did do the piano lessons this week and it all went really well! Gabriel is 6 years old and such a cute little boy. He was really shy at first but he warmed up quickly! I am always so amazed at how fast little children learn! I played some games with him to help him learn all of the notes and he totally has it down. It was funny because Zr. Stapleton even started to play along with all of the games and she decided that she is going to learn the basics of the piano along with Gabriel! Anyway, I am looking forward to the next lesson and I know that Heavenly Father is really helping me with this one. He really magnifies our talents and capabilities as we are willing to share them!
So, I roped myself into yet another assignment with the members here! I am going to make dinner for the whole Young Single Adult Centrum just 3 days before my talk in church and my primary lesson. I volunteered to do it but I didn´t know that it would fall within the same week as the other two assignments. Oh well! It will work out! But now the trick is figuring out what I am actually going to make! They are all expecting some amazing American meal but I have no recipes and no idea what I am going to do! Please send me any ideas that you have! There are usually 12 to 20 people there so it will be exciting! Thanks for your help and pray for me!
Things are going well with investigators. Emily is really being bombarded with anti material right now so we are really trying to strengthen her. Lotte is still planning on coming to church on Sunday so we are really excited! We found a new investigator, Yvonne, this week and she is really positive! Things are picking up and I know that the Lord is preparing many people.
Zone Conference is this week at the temple and I can hardly wait! I miss the temple so much and I know that it will be an amazing experience to go back! Zr. Stapleton is actually doing the work for her father when we go so I know it will be really spiritual. It will be so great to gather with all of the missionaries and be taught by President and Zuster Brubaker!
I love you so much and I hope that you have a wonderful week! You are in my prayers, by name, and by needs! Love,Laur
I think that that is one of the most amazing things that I have seen so far on my mission, just how fast a person can change because they feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. We actually had an experience like that on Friday during our consecrated hour. We were knocking on a few doors and I felt really impressed to go to an apartment building I could see on a side street. We knocked on the first five doors of the building and either no one was home or no one had interest. I started to wonder if I had really felt the Spirit prompt me to head in that direction or if I was totally out of tune. We had one more door to knock on and I was hoping that we would see a miracle. An older woman came to the door and the second she saw our name badges she said, "Not interested!“ and started to shut the door. I don't know what Zuster Stapleton or I said next that made her open the door back up and talk to us about the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ for the next 15 minutes but there was a mighty change, a change that can only happen through the Spirit. We testified of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon and she even accepted a copy. We also shared a little bit about the temples and life after death. By the end she had tears in her eyes and was eager to let us come back to teach her more. It was such a sweet experience!