Monday, June 28, 2010


Monday, June 27, 2010

I have been thinking about you all week! How was the reunion?! From the titles of your e-mails and the pictures it looks and sounds like it was just AWESOME!!! It also sounds like you are always takes a couple of days, sometimes a couple of weeks, to recuperate after one of those! I can't wait to read my e-mails! Thank you so much for still taking the time to write and let me know how it went even though you were so means so much to me! Also, thanks for the pictures Heidi and Mark! That makes the letters come alive! And Carli, you are way too cute! Those pictures from the photo shoot are adorable! So I have been thinking that I would pretty much just see a physical change in the grandkids over my time of being here but you have changed so much! It freaks me out! You look so old and grown up...your hands and your face and just everything. I think that I am in for a big surprise when I get home!
Well this week was crazy but sooo good! It all started on Monday night when we had a family home evening with Zjuleika and her two daughters, Bianca and Brigette. It went so well! We started the lesson with a primary song, "I am a child of God", and they sang along. We then had a prayer, a lesson, and a little game as well as a treat at the end. The girls just loved it! They wanted us to come back every night and do a family home evening with them. Before we left we said that we wanted to say one more prayer together and that Zuster Harrington was going to say it. Little 6 year old Bianca spoke up and said, "Would it be okay if I tried to say the prayer?" I think both of us were in shock and our chins dropped but we were so excited because she wanted to put to practice the things that we taught her during our lesson. She said the sweetest little prayer ever and they all committed to pray every day for the rest of the week and fill in their little prayer chart! It was a really special appointment. We tried calling Zjuleika later in the week to set up a new appointment but she never answered and we were scared she was going to drop us. We have been praying really hard for her, as I know you have been too, and she actually called us back today and left a message! We hope that we can set up another appointment this week!
On Tuesday we were able to teach Familie Chakarov, a little family from Bulgaria. It is so difficult to teach them because of the language barrier but it is coming along. The man, Zuni, actually came to church yesterday and is planning on coming again next week. I am so thankful to know that at least the Spirit speaks the same language!
We also taught Emily that night with Joyce and the lesson was so good. We asked Emily where she plans to be in 5 years and she said, “A member of this church, of course!" I have no doubt that she will become a member. We are sending all of her information to the mission that her home area is in so the missionaries can contact her right after she gets home. We will teach her two more times this week and then she will be off. I sure will miss her! I just love her so much!
On Thursday morning we headed out bright and early to go to Zwolle. Interviews were wonderful and it was so great to be back in that city! After interviews, we headed out to do some work in the wonderful city of Zwolle! We stopped by one of our old investigators, Nanda, and we had quite the amazing experience. Nanda let us in and was so excited to have missionaries at her house again. She then came to the realization that whenever she is having a rough time the missionaries always seem to show up. Her husband was just diagnosed with a life-threatening health problem and she had been praying for help and support and she took our visit as the answer. What a humbling realization. She then proceeded to tell us that that morning she had read Moroni 8 in the Book of Mormon and that the next day she was planning on finishing the whole book. She has been reading it every day since me and Zuster Wieland left Zwolle. She saw how it teaches the same things as the Bible and she really felt uplifted through reading it. Luckily we were able to be there to extend Moroni’s Promise to her and commit her to praying to know if the Book of Mormon is true. She committed to do it and we are going to have the elders follow up with her. It was just another testimony to me that nothing happens by chance! We then stopped by Willeka's, Famile Spijkerman's, and then had dinner at Tineke's with Sue Haina! I felt like I was "home" being back with all of those people. Sue Haina will be sending in her mission papers today and is expecting her call in 2-6 weeks. I'll keep you posted on where she will be going!
After our work in Zwolle we headed to Amsterdam where we spent the night. The next day Zuster Harrington and Zuster Cranford went to Belgium for legality and I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Zuster Ekstrom in Amsterdam. That city is crazy! I am so used to the quiet north side of the country! But it was a wonderful experience and I really learned a lot from working there.
Well, my time is up! I love you so much! I really, really do! Thank you so much for your love! I am praying for you! Have a great week!
Love, Laur

Monday, June 21, 2010

Is this summer or winter?!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hello Fam! How are you all doing! Have you have a wonderful week? How is little Ava? I can´t wait to see pictures of her! Congratulations Jordan and Kristin!!! Did you all have a great Father´s Day? I hope you had a great Father´s Day DAD! Thank you so much for the e-mails! I can´t wait to know what is going on at home!
This week was wonderful! It has become really cold here (I think we are having some funky weather like you are having too...I even had to pull my winter coat out last night!) but the work couldn´t be better! Mom, THANK YOU so much for the recipe! It turned out perfect (that is definitely one to add to the recipe box). Joanne was able to print it off for me and she was SO happy with the little note that you wrote to her...she even got a little emotional about it! I know that your words are words that she will always treasure as well as words that I will always treasure. I am amazed how all of you immediately have such a strong love for the people that I am working with. Even though they are in the beginning only names included in my e-mails, through your prayers you develop a great love and concern for them that blesses their lives in so many ways! Thank you for being willing to serve and love like the Savior. You are wonderful examples to me! Anyway, the institute dinner turned out so good! We made pancakes and eggs and the ham sauce and I don´t think there was an ounce of food left on the tables! All of the people were just raving about it and asked us if we would be willing to cook it every week! It was really fun to be able to serve in that way and especially to be a support to the ward in that way. They are really struggling to find a leader for the institute and YSA center so I am glad that we are able to help in some way to keep it going! They´ll be asking us to cook again in a couple of weeks so keep me posted if you have any ideas for easy, time-friendly meals!
As far as investigators go we are a little low again. Emily will be leaving in a week to go back to St. Martin and we are hoping to get one more lesson in with her before she goes. We had a great miracle with Zjuleika this past week! We had an appointment with her on Tuesday and she really opened up and told us how she was feeling about what we had already taught her. She has interest but is a little scared to make changes. We pulled out a calendar to set up a baptismal date with her and something amazing happened! She said that before she makes the following appointment for her she wanted to make an appointment for us to do a family home evening with her and her two daughters! Only a week earlier she did not want us to be in her house when her daughters were home and in that amount of time she decided, with promptings from the Spirit, that she wanted us to teach her and her daughters. I will keep you posted on how tonight goes! We also found another new investigator, Gracita, and we will be teaching her for the second time this week!
We have done a lot more work with members and are seeing the fruits of our labors. Their hearts are beginning to soften and they are joining in the work. It is such a blessing to work with such wonderful and dedicated people!
We have interviews on Thursday in Zwolle and I got permission from President to work the rest of the day there. I get to look up old investigators and do some finding and I can hardly wait to be back in that city for a little while! I actually got to call Tineke and setup an appointment with her for dinner that night and I am looking forward to seeing her again. It really is a special blessing and privilege to be able to do this!
I love you so much and I know that God loves you too. He is your Father. He wants us to be happy and have success. I am so thankful that He sent me to the family I am a part of. You are all so wonderful, not only because of what you do but, more importantly, because of whom you are! I pray for you! Have a great week!
Love, Laur

Monday, June 14, 2010

Happy Birthday DAD!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010
Happy Birthday (tomorrow) Dad!!! I hope that you have an extra special birthday! I'll be thinking about you! How are you all doing!? Thank you so much for the e-mails! I don't get to tell you enough that YOU ARE ALL SO AWESOME! I sure love ya!
What a week! We had a Zone Conference in Apeldoorn on Friday and Stake Conference yesterday so I am totally pumped and fired up to dive into the work this week and double my efforts! For Stake Conference we had a satellite broadcast from Salt Lake and Elders Packer and Bednar spoke, as well as a man from the Quorum of the Seventy and Mary N. Cook. It was really a special treat to be able to hear from them, especially with what they had to say to the members here in Western Europe.
I have a renewed testimony of the power of goals after this week! I set a goal to do my very best to get a member by every teaching appointment that we had...and it worked! We had four member present lessons this week and that is more than I have ever had in my life! The Lord truly was aware of the desires of mine and Zuster Harrington's hearts and prepared a way for that to happen. We had to work really hard, calling people and trying to arrange everything, and in the end it really paid off. It all started on Monday when Joyce Streuper came as a joint-teach to Emily. We had a lesson about tithing and I don't think that it was by chance that Joyce came with us because she was able to share some very spiritual experiences she has had with paying tithing. Sadly enough we found out that night that Emily is moving back to St. Martin in 2 weeks so her baptismal date is not going to go through. But she wants us to send all of her information through to the missionaries there and she can't wait to get in contact with the church in her own country. I really don't care if she gets baptized here or in St. Martin, as long as she gets baptized! I know that she will become a member of this church in the near future...she is reading and praying every day and I even gave her a Dutch CTR ring and she NEVER takes it off. It is amazing to see how the gospel changes people and makes them so happy! We also had an appointment with Emily on Saturday and Sarah Fridsma came with us. We watched the Restoration film and it was SO powerful! The Joseph Smith story never loses power...IT IS TRUE!
On Thursday we had a church tour with a new investigator, Marion, and our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Dorenbosh was there to accompany us. The chapel was the first part of the church we went to and we didn't make it any further than that. The church really is the house of the Lord and Marion could feel the special spirit there. We shared the whole first lesson and she had tears in her eyes. She is a 28 year old mother with a 5 year old son and she is searching for the true church. She was so excited to hear our focus on families and to receive a copy of the Book of Mormon. We'll have another appointment with her this week!
Later on Thursday we went to Joanne's new apartment to help her cleanup the kitchen before she moved in and her friend, Melissa, was also there helping. Melissa has been to church a number of times and she also attends institute quite regularly. She loved the lesson we shared about having faith and trust in the Lord and hopefully will start taking the missionary lessons. Having Joanne, such a recent convert, there to help us teach would be the most prime situation ever!
We stopped by Zjuleika's yesterday and we are going to teach her tomorrow and hopefully set up a baptismal calendar with her. We just keep pushing on, trying to find the elect! It is such a wonderful and blessed privilege to be able to find them and teach them! Sometimes we don't know why we can't find a lot of them, or they all move away, or they lose interest, but the Lord knows and He is providing for us!
This week we are really looking forward to the many adventures that will come! We are making dinner again for institute and doing the YW activity this week so we always manage to keep our schedule jammed packed (just the way I like it!)!
Your prayers and faith are working miracles! You are doing missionary work in so many ways. Just by being an example, living the gospel, serving others...following the example of Jesus Christ, you are bringing His children back to Him and helping them find their way to the greatest joy they could ever find!
I love you so much! I hope that you have a wonderful week filled with the joy of the gospel! Never forget I am praying for you too!
Love, Laur

Friday, June 11, 2010

Called to Serve Him!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Thanks for the many e-mails this week, Mom, Dad, Brooke, Car, and Corb! I am looking forward to reading them! How was your week?! Are you having fun in Oregon and in West Jordan and where ever else you may be? It was an awesome week here! I will do my best to fill you in!
First of all, Swinda and Dave are gone back to Curicao! Dave's cancer is gone and they flew out last weekend. At first I was really sad to hear that they had to pack up and get out so soon because I wanted to teach them more and continue to bring them closer to Christ but then I was reminded of the wonderful miracle that it is that he is healed and that Heavenly Father will be sure to bring them in contact with the missionaries again in Curicao. Yesterday I took pictures of them to the primary and shared them with the children. All of a sudden it hit me that all of the little primary children had been praying for Dave, as well as all of you, many ward members and many of his family members and friends. He also received a priesthood blessing. I KNOW that the blessing and many faith-filled prayers were answered and he was miraculously healed. I don't know what better witness Dave and Swinda could receive that Jesus Christ lives and this is His church! As I stood before the Primary children tears were brought to my eyes and I was humbled to know that Heavenly Father works many miracles and I had the opportunity to witness this one. It was a tender mercy and one of the highlights of my mission.
On Friday night during our nightly planning session we were planning out what we were going to do on Saturday night. We had a good chunk of time open in the evening and we were doing our best to try to listen to the Spirit to know how the Lord wanted us to use that time. After sharing a few ideas with each other and not really feeling like any of them were right the phone started to ring. I felt like I should answer it and as I walked to get it out of my bag I jokingly said to Zuster Harrington, "I think this will be someone who needs our help tomorrow night!" Turns out, it was! A 28 year old man named Frank had received a pamphlet from us, Zuster Harrington’s first night here as we were knocking doors, had read it, and was wondering if hecould set up an appointment as soon as possible to learn more about the church! We set up an appointment for the next night and he gave all of his contact information to us so we would know where to find him. We went balistic! Of course we quickly fell on our knees in gratitude for that great blessing. On Saturday we really made sure we made a solid lesson plan and tried to follow the Spirit in knowing what to teach him. We also started calling members to find a joint-teach. After calling about 25 members, Zuster Weening agreed to come with us although she had much she had to get done that night. We made sure we were on time for the appointment and continued to say aprayer in our hearts that everything would go well. We went to his house, rang his bell, and….nothing happened. We rang again and still no one came to the door. We finally resorted to calling and it went directly to his voicemail. We were devastated! Our joint-teach was very disappointed and headed home and we were left not knowing what to think. Did we not have enough faith? What had happened in that 24hour period that had driven Frank not to meet with us? As I was reading in the Book of Mormon I came across 2 Nephi 2:24 that says, "But behold, all things are done in the wisdom of Him that knoweth all things.“ We had done our best. The Lord has a plan and Frank has his agency. It was still a miracle. I don’t know what will happen in the future with Frank but I am thankful that I do know that my perspective of things is really small and the Lord has all wisdom.
We are still teaching Emily and we are really working on building up relationships between her and the members. We are also still teaching Zjuleika and she is beginning to follow through with her commitments. She read a pamphlet and she even commited to reading a Liahona article. They are small steps but her faith is growing.
During lessons this week my faith was strengthened of the power of the Holy Ghost in knowing what to say. During our lesson with Zjuleika I felt prompted to ask her if we could help her in her yard to get it ready for summer. Her jaw dropped and then she said, "How did you know that that is what I needed? I have wanted to get busy with it but as a single mom I just haven't found the time. I would love your help!" We are going to be setting an appointment to do that this week. In another lesson with a 20 year old in active member, Zoraima, I felt impressed to ask, "If you could be invisible would you come back to church?" I put off asking it because it sounded a little childish. I thought that she would think I was crazy. But the Spirit continued to prompt me so I sheepishly asked the question. I was a little freaked out when she loudly said "YES!" and then totally opened up and let us know how she was really feeling. That was the question that really got her talking and now we know what the root of her problem is and what we can do to help. The Spirit truly does give us everything we need at the moment we need them!
We had our first Saturday activity and we only had a few people come but we have big hopes that it will continue to grow! It was a lot of fun with the people we did have and we hope that as members hear about how fun it was they will also want to come. I think it will become a great missionary tool!
Thank you so much for your prayers and support! I LOVE YOU! This work is amazing and everyone can do it! I am convinced that being an example and serving are the two greatest ways to bring others to Christ. As I have read and studied the story of Ammon I have come to see the most effective way to do the work. He was willing to serve and set the example first and then King Lamoni came to him asking questions about the gospel. It is just up to us to be ready to give the answers! I hope that you have a great week! I am praying for you!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Things are lookin up in Groningen!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Hello! Did you have a great week!? Thank you so much for the e-mails, Mom, Dad, and Brooke! Your e-mails last week sure gave me so much strength and I know that they will do the same this week! I always love the quotes, scriptures, miracles, experiences, and uplifting words that you include. I feel like you are always led by the Spirit to know exactly what I need to hear so thank you for being in tune and being an answer to my prayers!
Being a trainer is so much fun! I am learning soooo much and things have been a little overwhelming at times but luckily everything has gone really smoothly. My companions name is Zuster Harrington and she is from New Mexico. Her dad is actually in the Air Force so she has lived in Germany and Greece at times. She has so much faith and she just wants to do her best to share the gospel and be obedient. I have really learned about the power of an example this week because I see that she does EXACTLY what I do. It is kind of scary! But I am really learning to make sure everything I do and say is in-line with mission rules and in accordance with the commandments. I am also learning more about following the Spirit in decision making, especially when it is just on-the-spot. I am so thankful for the gift of the Holy Ghost! I couldn't do this on my own! I am also speaking a lot more with people and I am thoroughly enjoying that. I think that the most difficult part is motivating her to do things but not pushing her. Luckily she usually says what part of the lesson or contact she would like to give and is self-motivated so that really helps. I have thought a lot about the song “If the Savior Stood Beside Me" this week and I really feel Him close by me. My testimony has been strengthened that He does live! He is always with us when we strive to do the right things. I love the Savior.
The couple of days before Zuster Stapleton left were a little busy! I planned a surprise dinner for her with Familie Fridsma and I am so thankful that I was able to work with Zuster Fridsma to do that before Zuster Stapleton left Groningen. She was so happy that we would do that for her and I think that it made her last night in Groningen extra special!
Wednesday morning we headed to Utrecht to meet up with all of the other missionaries for transfers. My MTC teacher, Zuster Spencer, was here visiting the people and areas from her mission and just happened to be at the train station where we were all gathering! It was fun to see her and all of the other missionaries. I was really nervous to meet Zuster Harrington but now I know that I had no reason to be nervous. We made it back up to Groningen and were actually able to go to the Bishop's house that night. Plans are going through and we, as missionaries, will be planning a ward activity every Saturday in June, July, and August. The Bishop is really positive about the plans and we will have our first activity this Saturday. I don't really know what we are doing yet but hopefully we'll figure it out soon!
We have found so many potential investigators this past week and this coming week looks really positive! Emily is still progressing and shooting for July 3 to get baptized. Swinda has been really busy this week but I had a meeting with all of the YW and YW presidency yesterday and they are going to come to the Ronald McDonald house to do an activity with Swinda and Dave. I am planning the activity for June 18 so if you have any ideas of what we could do, I am open!
Sunday we had a guest service and Zjuleika, a member referral, came to church with her 2 daughters, which was a miracle! The guest service was really nice and we had quite a crowd. Joanne and I threw a musical number together at the last minute and we were blessed! It turned out okay!
I just want you all to know that I love you so much! I really do LOVEYOU! The Lord lives and this is HIS work. We are all involved in it! I am praying for you all! Thanks for your prayers!
Love, Lauren