Monday, October 25, 2010

I am just as shocked as you are!!! I found out from you that I am staying until March 16th!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dear Mom, Dad, and Family,
My hands are all sweaty and a little shaky from the news that I received from you. As I prepare to print my e-mails I quickly scan through your e-mails to check and see if there is anything that I really need to be aware of before I start e-mailing you. There were a couple of sentences in Dad's e-mail that really caught my the date March 16th! I just don't know how that all happened but I will share the side of the story with you that I know. I almost want to cry right now...tears of joy and sadness! So a couple of weeks ago one of the sisters, Zuster Garvin, found out that she got an extension to stay for an extra transfer because she came one transfer late due to visa problems. All of the sudden I had something within me start to say, "You should think about asking to stay another transfer." I thought it was ridiculous! I had already gone through the whole process of deciding between coming home in December and February and I didn't want to go through the process again. I already felt blessed that I would be able to stay 12 transfers instead of 11 and I was content with that decision. But the thought stayed with me and I finally turned to Heavenly Father in prayer to ask him to either take the thought away so that I could focus on the work or bless me to know what to do with the thought if it came from him. I finally had the prompting to call President up and share with him my feelings. I told him that it was not something that I really was desiring but that if it was the Lord's will I would be willing to stay. He said that we could continue to think about it and pray about it and that he would make a decision of whether or not he would submit it to the Area Presidency for reviewing. Because it is VERY rare for any missionary to get an extension anymore, especially sisters, he didn't know if it would pass. A couple of weeks went by and at interviews the same prompting returned, "You should think about staying another transfer."But I didn't want to mention it to President again so I tried to push it out of my head. But it stayed in my head until that night when I finally was moved upon to call President one more time. Once again he said that we would pray about it and that he wanted me to explain to him in my next President's letter why I would want to. As I sat down to write the President's letter all I could think to write was, "I had a feeling and so I called you." It wasn't that I was really wishing to stay but I felt that the Spirit was telling me to act. I explained to him that it didn't matter to me what happened but that if it was the will of the Lord, I was willing to stay and serve another 6 weeks. I sent him the letter and received in return that he submitted a request to the Area Presidency to make the decision. I thought that I would hear from President the final decision, but somehow you got it first! I still don't know how I feel about it. It is hard to know that I won't be coming home for another 6 weeks, meaning that I will be on my mission a total of 20 months. But I know that this just must be the will of the Lord or it wouldn't have happened. I am willing to follow His command and plan. I don't know why he wants me here for another 6weeks but I have learned that to everything there is a reason. I really need your prayers and support as I accept this extra little calling from the Lord! I can't imagine what a shock it must have been for you. I don't want you to think that this was a plan that I was not sharing with you. I actually didn't think that anything would come of it and I didn't want to create a big deal out of nothing...but now it really is a big deal! I hope that it doesn't interfere with any plans that you have already made. Thank you for your constant love and support. I think that I will be calling President up in a little bit and asking about how things did end up working out. I can't believe it all. It is going to take some time to settle in. I feel very humbled.
Well, now that I am almost out time, I will share a couple of things from the week! Ronald is doing AWESOME!!! Bisou is also keeping commitments and we are still teaching Mary. I got really sick with a cold on Thursday and Friday and then a member told me that I should ask for a priesthood blessing. I thought that for a cold it wasn't that necessary but realized also that it wouldn't hurt. On Saturday I asked Elder Matthews for one and you wouldn't believe how I am feeling now! It was one of those colds that you know would linger for weeks but I am almost totally better! I am so thankful for the blessings and power of the priesthood. I was also reading in Mark last week about how the Lord performed miracles according to prayer and fasting. The idea came to my head to fast together with Zuster Pierson in behalf of health problems she is having. I called Zuster Brubaker up to ask if we could do that and also invite other sisters to join. She said that she would talk with president and decide if that was a good idea. She called back and she felt really inspired to have a fast with all of the sisters in behalf of all of the sisters. We fasted together yesterday and it was so awesome. And tomorrow is Zone Conference at the temple!
I got to go! I love you soooo much! 6 weeks isn't that much longer (I am trying to convince myself)! I hope you have a great week!
Love, Zuster Sharp

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Monday, October 18, 2010

Dear Family,
How are you doing!? I know that my subject heading for my e-mail was a really bold statement but I am pretty sure that this last week was the best week of my whole mission! The Lord has just opened the windows of heaven and poured out blessings upon us here in Den Haag! We are definitely so undeserving of what we have received, but so thankful! Here are a few of the miracles that we saw every second of every day this past week:
On Tuesday we went and taught Ronald the Word of Wisdom. We knew that he had problems with smoking and drinking so we weren't sure what their action would be but it couldn't have gone better! It was amazing to see how the Holy Ghost worked with him during the lesson and let him know that the W of W is a commandment from Heavenly Father to bless us. By the end of the lesson he had a plan to keep that commandment. He is so excited for his baptism on November 6th! On Wednesday night we got a text from him that he had had dinner with one of the members (he had just arranged it himself) and that he had read 2 Nephi 31 and32. He was so excited about the Book of Mormon and could hardly put it down! We also taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ on Thursday and he was sharing scriptures with us and pretty much ended teaching us out of the Book of Mormon. On Saturday he came to the baptism of an 8 year old boy in the ward. By the end of the baptismal service he pretty much had his own baptismal service planned out. He actually doesn't quite understand who has the priesthood quite yet so after explaining to him that I couldn't be one of the witnesses at his baptism he asked me if I could give him the Holy Ghost. It was hard to keep a straight face as I explained that I also couldn't do that but I directed him to a few people that could! Anyway, Brother Scheltinga will be baptizing him, Brother Oddens will be giving him the Holy Ghost, Elder Robinson and Brother Oddens will be witnesses, and Zuster Scherf and I will be giving talks on baptism and the Holy Ghost. I know that November 6th will be a very special morning! He is so ready! The Lord prepared him to receive the restored gospel. He even called us this morning to ask us how much a triple would be, with the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, so that he can really study and prepare for the lessons that we have with him and the lessons that will take place in the church on Sunday!
In a normal week in Den Haag we usually have about 5 lessons with a member present but this week members were working with us like crazy! We had a total of 11 member present lessons and we found 5 new investigators! The members are getting so excited and pumped about the work. On Saturday at the baptism one of the members came up to us and asked us if we would have time to come to her house this coming Friday because she wants us to begin teaching her friend! Another member who had us over on Saturday afternoon invited a friend to join the lesson and he is also a new investigator. Every time with thought that it just couldn't get better, it did!
On Friday night we went with Bro. and Sis. Jansen to teach the mother of a young boy who was baptized two years ago at the age of 10. She is not a member but investigated with her son when the missionaries were teaching him. For some reason after the boy was baptized, he and the mom lost contact with the church. The ward council actually asked us to stop by a few weeks ago to check on them. They were not home so I wrote a quick note and threw it in their mailbox. We got a call at the end of last week from the mom, Mary, who had found our note and said she would come to church. She came to church last week and we set up an appointment for Friday. Anyway, when we went on Friday we asked her about her background with the church and what made her decide to call us up and invite us to come and teach her. She said that she hadn't noticed our note until a few days after she had gotten the mail. She was sorting through the mail and the handwriting on the note really caught her attention (I think that it is only because American and European handwriting is so different). She just couldn't throw the note away and she finally decided to give us a call. We are going to start meeting with her weekly! I just was amazed that something so small as a little note would have so much of an impact!
I am out of time but I just want you to know that I know that Jesus is the Christ! I love you and pray for you! Have a great week!
Love, Laur

What an amazing week!

Monday, October 11, 2010
Dear Family!
I am so sorry but the time is extremely short and I have so much that I want to share with you! Thanks for your letters! I am going to jump right in!
The temple was AMAZING!!! I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to go to the temple and see Sue-Haina experience the blessings of the temple! Zuster Spijkerman, Tineke, and Zuster Walle were there as well and it was such a sweet and tender experience. We were able to do the 2:30 session and it was amazing to feel the Spirit so strongly and feel so close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I had a realization that the saying "Families are Forever" is not exclusively for immediate families, but all of our family members in the gospel. I am so thankful that the gospel links us together so that we can be with all of our brothers and sisters forever! I was sure thinking of all of you as I was in the Celestial Room...can't wait for that moment again!
We set another Baptismal Date! Victoria, one of the members here, gave us a referral for her friend Bisou. We went and taught Bisou on Friday at Victoria's house and she committed to be baptized! We set up a calendar with her and we will be teaching her every Monday and Wednesday at Victoria's! Roland is also doing great! He just eats up everything that we teach him. We even called him Saturday and invited him to fast on Sunday if he wanted to with the rest of the ward. He accepted and came to church yesterday fasting and so happy to be there. We will also be teaching him 3 times this week. The members are so excited about both of them and love to go on joint-teach with us. I am so thankful for their willingness to serve!
We were able to go with Sister Brubaker on Tuesday night and that was a special treat! We went and taught
The computer is having problems. I will write a letter. Sorry! I love you!!!
Love, Zuster Sharp

Monday, October 4, 2010

My prayers are with you!

Monday, October 4, 2010
Dear Family,
I am so thankful for the blessings of the gospel! As I scanned over your e-mails today as I was preparing them to print I read the news about David Dockendorf. My heart goes out to each one of you, especially Brandt and Kelly and the whole Dockendorf family. I can’t imagine the many things that you have all felt this week as you have gone through this experience but I can imagine that it has been difficult and trying. It is hard to hear such news and to be able to deal with the difficult emotions that it brings, but harder to know that I am not with you to comfort and help in any way I could during this difficult time, although there is not much that I could do to help. However, I have faith in times like these that this is where I am supposed to be and that I couldn't be doing anything better there than I am doing here. I am so thankful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the hope that it brings, especially when something like this occurs in our lives. I am so thankful for the Savior and that He atoned for our sins, felt every pain that we feel, knows how to succor us, and overcame death so that we may have the hope of living again. I love Him so much and am so thankful that His gospel has been restored to the earth and that I am blessed to be a member of His church. I am thankful to be one of His missionaries at this time, to share His love and teachings with others and invite them to partake of the joy and peace that He offers. I am so thankful for all of my many blessings and especially for prayer, that I can communicate personally with my Heavenly Father. I will be praying for each of you as you continue in faith and hope, relying on the Atonement of the Savior and the wonderful Plan of Salvation that our Father in Heaven prepared for us. I know that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are always waiting with open arms to hear from us and to welcome us when we need peace and comfort. They love us so much and they will help us overcome every difficult thing in our lives. Although they are not here with us, we each have the gift of the Holy Ghost to comfort us and help us. We also have the blessings of the Priesthood which brings incredible power and strength as we cope with difficult trials and experiences.
We have been extremely blessed here in Den Haag! We had our first appointment with Roland and it went so well! We invited him to be baptized on November 6th and he accepted!!! We also had an appointment with him on Friday and we will be having another one today. It should be exciting since he is so enthusiastic about the Restored Gospel and since he is keeping every commitment that we extend to him. He is a little difficult to keep on track during our lesson because he jumps from eternal families to tithing to the premortal life and he has a lot of questions but it is great that he is hungering for truth. Thanks for your prayers in his behalf!
Our other investigators aren't making too much progress. Vitalis has just about fallen off of the face ot the earth this week...sadly enough he didn't show up to conference! But Esra came to conference with one of her little friends and loved it! I am just floored that two little girls, ages 6 and 8, who aren't members of the church and have never attended a church in their whole lives up until now, think that it is so great to come and listen to General Conference! It is awesome! They must have felt the Spirit and they are just hungering for more!
Conference was wonderful! I loved all of the messages and wished it could have lasted just a little bit longer but I am so thankful for the words of the apostles and prophet. The Spirit was so strong during the whole thing and I feel lifted up and energized, re-committed to live the gospel even better. It was great!
This week will be very eventful! On Tuesday night Zuster Brubaker will be coming to work with us here in Den Haag. Wednesday morning we will have interviews in Leiden. Thursday we will be going to the temple with Sue Haina! I am so excited to be able to go to the temple again, especially for this special occasion. It will be AWESOME! And then we will be working like crazy all of the time in-between! I am looking forward to all of it!
I hope that you had a wonderful conference weekend and that you will have a great week! I am praying for you and I know that the Lord is watching over all of us! I love you so much! FAMILIES ARE FOREVER!
Love, Zuster Sharp

It is almost General Conference weekend! That's almost as good as Christmas!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hello Family! Thanks so much for the e-mails! Dad, I got both today and that was an extra special treat! I am really looking forward to reading all of them and catching up with the things that are going on at home! How are you all doing? Are you excited for October to begin? The leaves sure are getting beautiful! By the way, it is transfers this week...yeah, that means that I have already been with Zuster Pierson for a whole six weeks and...we will be staying together for another six! We are really looking forward to having another transfer together here in Den Haag!
This week was totally awesome! We had some amazing miracles and we were also spiritually fed. We had Zone Conference on Friday in Leiden and Elder Sterri, a member of the third quorum of the seventy and area presidency, was with us all of the way from Norway. He was great! After the Zone Conference, the Den Haag did a musical fireside for all members and investigators. It turned out really nice and the Spirit was really strong! Music is so awesome because it really does bring the Spirit and it is a universal language. I am so thankful that Heavenly Father has given us the wonderful blessing of music. Oh, and I was also on exchanges on Thursday with Zuster Garvin. She is so wonderful! We just had the greatest time serving together and I learned so much from her! It really was one of my most favorite weeks!
I would just like to share a little miracle with you that we experienced this past week. As we picked a consecrated hour street on Monday night I had a very vivid picture in my mind of where we were supposed to go, even before we looked at the map. After sharing my feelings with Zuster Pierson, we decided to go to that place. It was a shopping area really close to our apartment and there were many people on the street. It was about 11:00 in the morning and people were in a big hurry to get to work or school or to get some shopping done. We had a lot of short contacts with people but no one in particular had interest. Then we had the feeling to cross over to the other side. As we were walking there was a man and we felt prompted to talk to him. Turns out that he had talked to me and Zuster Harrington and Zuster Reber a few weeks earlier very briefly. As we began to share with him the message of the Restoration, he really opened up. He said that he had decided a couple of months ago to not go to a church but to strengthen his faith on his own. He had actually stopped drinking and doing drugs two weeks earlier because he felt like that is what Jesus wanted him to do. He said that he would come to our church one time to give it a chance. He gave us his number so we could call and remind him to come, and then he was on his way. We felt pretty positive about him and prayed that he would really show up at church. On Saturday night we decided to call him and remind him to come but his number didn't work. We felt a little discouraged and were lacking that faith that he would really come, especially since the last time we had talked to him was 5 days earlier. But we prayed for him anyway. Sunday morning, as we were walking to pick up a less-active family for church, he came walking in the direction of the church, all dressed up in a white button up shirt, tie, and suit. He had a smile on his face! We couldn’t believe it! The members all welcomed him and he said that he really felt the Spirit during the classes. At the end of Sacrament Meeting we hurried to go and talk to him so that we could get his right number and set up an appointment with him but he was gone before we could get there. We were not sure if he would come back the next week and we were scared that we would never see him again. After eating some lunch, we saw that we had missed a call and had a new message. It was him, Roland! He said that he wanted us to come back and teach him more because he had a really good feeling about all of it. We called him back and set up an appointment for this Wednesday. We are really looking forward to teaching him and especially to share the baptismal calendar with him. He is one of the elect and we feel so blessed!
We are still teaching Vitalis and he is doing well! Your prayers in his behalf are really helping. He is searching for the truth and we have been able to have some very great lessons with him. We taught him three times this week and he committed to come to General Conference this weekend. I know that he will have a great experience as he listens to a prophet of God. Elisabeth threw a curve at us and told us the second that we walked into her appointment on Thursday that she will not get baptized again and doesn't really want to go further with us. After talking with her for a few minutes we learned that she told her pastor that she was meeting with us and he really pulled her away. We are going to have one more lesson with her this week to decide if she is ready and to see if she is progressing. If not, we will give her back to the Lord and missionaries will come in contact with her again when she is ready. We were also not able to get a hold of Roger and Brigitte this past week...we wonder if Roger took a step back again. Luckily we have an appointment on Tuesday so we are hoping that he is still positive! Familie Saragoza, the inactive family that we have been working with, are making huge strides! We had a family home evening with them at the beginning of the week and they asked us if we would come and pick them up for church! They also made a goal to read every day in the Book of Mormon. The oldest daughter committed to go to the Young Women activity (and she did!) and they are experiencing the joy of the gospel again. It is amazing to walk into their home and feel something so different because they are doing their best to follow Christ!
The Lord lives and he loves us. The gospel is the one and only way to lasting happiness and peace. I know that the church was restored through Joseph Smith. I know that the Book of Mormon is the evidence of that. I love this work and I love all of you! Keep smiling and have a great week! Thanks for all you do for me!
Love, Laur

What a week!!! I've been in the Netherlands for one whole year!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hello everyone! How are you all doing? Are you enjoying the beautiful fall weather? It is wonderful here! Thank you so much for your e-mails...and for the AWESOME package! I got it on Saturday and I just love all that you sent! I wore the skirt and orange sweater yesterday, along with the adorable brown flower and the cute goldish dangly earrings (Brooke, I think they were not too "bling bling" and I just couldn't wait 5 months to wear them so I hope they weren't too much!)! The pictures were so all look fantastic and it was so fun to be able to have more of a clear picture of all that you have been doing over the past couple of months. Thank you so much, Brooke and Mom, for putting that together. That was sooo thoughtful and I am really looking forward to wearing all of my new things this week. Spices up the work a bit!
Well, we saw lots and lots of miracles this week! As I was reading in the Book of Mormon this morning I found myself in Moroni 7:33-37. It’s all about faith and miracles and it made me think about this past week. God is a God of miracles and miracles have definitely not ceased! No matter how great or small our faith is, as long as we have a little we will experience miracles! We went to teach Vitalis on Tuesday with Victoria but he got stopped with his tram and wasn't able to get home on time for our appointment and we had to leave for the next appointment. Victoria was so kind and agreed to accompany us as we went to teach Brigitte and Bernard. We always try to teach the two of them at Brigitte's house when her husband Roger isn't home because he is not too fond of us or the church (we've actually had some pretty scary situations with him). Brigitte had said that he would be gone to work but when we got to her home he came walking up at the same time. We all became a little tense but had faith that things would work out. He was super friendly from the beginning and welcomed us in. He got drinks for all of us and was making some nice conversation. We just kind of went along with it. We felt like the Spirit was telling us to stay. When we started the lesson he was in the kitchen but he immediately came in to join us. We ended up putting "The Restoration” DVD in and he stayed and watched the whole thing. The lesson ended up being focused totally on him. He was answering questions and really getting involved and in the last five minutes of the lesson I pulled a baptismal calendar out to ask him to be baptized. I looked at Zuster Pierson and her eyes told me that she thought I was crazy but I quickly mouthed to her, "pray for me!" I then invited Roger to take the lessons from us and prepare to be baptized. I just let the words come from the Spirit because I was too scared to spit it out. He said YES! I have never witnessed a greater miracle in my life and I think that we were all speechless when he actually said it, especially Brigitte! Now setting appointments will be a little tricky because of his work schedule but we hope to teach him a couple of times this week! Miracles happen!
We have also been able to teach Vitalis, Elisabeth, Natali and Esra this week. They are all progressing and really learning a lot through the Spirit. The members are so busy doing missionary work and it is just a super exciting time here in Den Haag. On Friday as we were finding we were not seeing much success. But in the last 15 minutes we knocked on the door of an 85 year old widower. He was very kind and listened to us. He then began to cry and said that he would love to have a copy of the Book of Mormon. We gave it to him and he looked at us with tears in his eyes and promised us that he would read it. The Spirit had touched his heart. I called him last night to see when we could make an appointment to teach him more and we will be going back next week! He has already read a good chunk of the Book of Mormon and can't wait to meet with us!
Man, my mind is so scattered right now because I just want to tell you so much but I am out of time! I hope that you can feel the happiness of the experiences that I have shared (and that they make sense).This work is awesome and better than I could have ever imagined! The Lord truly does love every one of us and cares so much for us! I hope that you can constantly feel of His love and know that through him we can return to Heavenly a family! I love you and pray for you! THANK YOU for all that you do for me! Have a great week!
Love, Laur

Happy September!

Monday, September 13, 2010
Hello Family! How was your week? Did you have fun in St. George, Mom? What about the rest of you? Thank you so much for your e-mails, Mom, Dad, Brooke, and Car! I can't wait to hear about all of the great things that you were able to do this week! I have been thinking about you and praying for you!
Blessings were poured out upon us this week!!! I still am in shock! I had an idea at the beginning of last week to make a big board with all of our goals and numbers that we set for the week. I have never done that before but it was just an idea that came to my mind so I thought I would try it out. Every night I would check off how many member present lessons we had had, other lessons, member lessons, new investigators we found, etc. and I was able to keep a clear vision of how we were doing and what we needed to accomplish by the end of the week. My prayers became more fervent and sincere as I went in prayer to Heavenly Father and asked him for specific help to accomplish the goals that we had set under the direction of the Spirit. The week was going really well but by Saturday we realized that we were falling a little short with some of our key indicators and we weren't sure if we were able to reach our goals with only Sunday left. We still had to have 4 member present lessons and 2 other lessons to be able to make it and seeing that we had only had 1 member present lesson in 6 days, we were wondering how it was going to work out. But as a companionship we went on our knees, and with the little faith we had, asking for more faith, we pled with Heavenly Father to help us reach our goals. We had 4 member present lessons, 2 other lessons, and an extra bonus of 2 new investigators yesterday! It was AMAZING!!! It strengthened my testimony that as we are specific with the things we desire to accomplish, if our desires are righteous, and if we turn to the Lord for help and put our faith in Him, He can bring to pass many miracles. I can't wait to see it happen again this week!
I think that a great part of the success that we saw can be attributed to the wonderful mission conference that we had on Wednesday with Elder Ballard, Elder Rasband, and Elder Causse. It was a spiritual feast! Wednesday started out bright and early-4:15 a.m.-because we had to be in Rotterdam by 7:00 to catch the bus that was rented for all of the missionaries. There was so much excitement in that bus knowing that within a few short hours we would be in the presence of an apostle of the Lord. It was a lot of fun to be together as a whole mission and to see all of the missionaries that I love so much! When we finally arrived in Brussels at 10:00 we had a light breakfast and got in our places on the stage for a big group picture with Elder Ballard. When he, the other authorities, and President and Sister Brubaker walked into the building, the whole church fell still. The Spirit was overwhelming and so powerful. He came walking in and greeted us with a big smile. You could feel warmth and love radiating from him. After the picture, we all took our seats in the chapel where he and the others instructed us for a few hours. He really focused on becoming a master teacher like the Savior Jesus Christ. I will include President's weekly letter in my e-mail so you can get an overview of what they taught us. It was so powerful that I did not leave the meeting just being spiritually boosted but as a changed missionary. As the meeting came to a close we had the opportunity to go up and shake his hand one by one and greet him. That was the first time I ever was able to shake the hand of an apostle and it was an experience I will never forget! Vitalis is still progressing and is reading in the Book of Mormon! He went to a dinner appointment this week and got to know some members. He is nervous about coming to church but we are working through his concerns. Elisabeth accepted a soft baptismal commitment and she is planning on being baptized on October 30!!! She is also finally reading in the Book of Mormon and praying about it so I am anxious to see her progress. Esra and her two little friends came to church again yesterday and they just love being there. Esra is 8, Angel is7, and Jennifer is 6 and they are loved and welcomed by all of the ward members. The primary president even called us this morning and asked us if she could come with us to teach these little girls in their homes. That was a miracle! We are hopefully going to be having a lesson with each of them this week. Hopefully they will be the keys to get their parents to investigate the church! Children are amazing and have so much faith!
We are continuing to work with the members and we are making big strides. They are growing in enthusiasm for the is a miracle to behold!
I love you so much! Thanks for your prayers and your examples of faith and testimony. The Lord lives and loves us. This is his church and it was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. Call on the Lord and he will bless you! Have a great week!
Love, Zuster Sharp