Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Sinter Klaas on December 5!!!

Monday, Nov. 29, 2010
Hey Family! How was your Thanksgiving?! I have been thinking about you and how thankful I am for you all week! I had a FABULOUS Thanksgiving! I started the day out bright and early (3:50 to be exact) by putting the pumpkin in the oven. Yeah, I had another one of my crazy ideas! I decided on Wednesday night that I just couldn't go another Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie! The only problem is that in the Netherlands you cannot buy pumpkin in a can. We have a pretty great "Better Homes and Gardens" recipe book in our apartment and it tells how to use a real pumpkin for making pies and different pumpkin desserts. So Wednesday night I got started by cleaning the pumpkin out and cutting it into bakeable pieces and then I finished it off onThursday morning. We went over to the church at 9 on Thursday and we took our pumpkin pie and other Thanksgiving treats with. We went there to help the Primary presidency clean up and pack up all of their materials in preparation for the church renovation. After a few hours of working, we surprised the presidency with fresh pumpkin pie and whipped cream, along with a vegetable and cracker platter with ranch dip. We had a fun little pre-Thanksgiving feast for lunch! Afterwards we did some finding and had a few appointments before going to Familie Koot's for the real feast. They had everything you could imagine! The whole table was filled and their home was filled with warmth and love. Along with us and the Elders being there, another young couple and little girl from the ward came and another young couple who are not members plus Br. and Sis. Koot and their 4 little kids. I think that it was the closest I could get to really feeling at home for the holiday and it was wonderful! We were stuffed by the time we left there to go to institute at the church and then we had to stop by one more member on the way home because she had made us something special for Thanksgiving. We were treated like royalty! I haven't wanted to eat for the past couple of days because I have been so stuffed! But I will never forget the wonderful memories of this last Thanksgiving of my mission!
This week was a week of member work! We spent a lot of our time serving and helping those in need in the ward and it has really helped me to feel the spirit of this Christmas season! On Saturday we went to Jolanda and Jeroen's house because Jeroen (a non member) wanted to teach us how to make Speculaas and Kruidennoten, two of the most famous treats baked for Sinter Klaas. It was so great to be able to learn from him! He is not investigating yet but I feel like every time we see him he gets closer and closer to Christ. After we baked many cookies we packaged them up to give to investigators this week. It will be fun to share something with them for this holiday season! And as we were headed from Jolanda's and Jeroen's we even found a surprise stuffed in our shoes from "Sinter Klaas"! The members make sure that we are taken care of!
We taught Iteke this week and she had read the pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation and she began with the Book of Mormon. She really is worried about changing her beliefs but she feels the spirit as she reads and I know that God is aware of her and will help her. We didn't have any appointments with Cevesta this week which is just too bad! He was just really busy. Suleyka is doing awesome! We had a few appointments, she came to institute and dinner with a member, she came to church, and she fasted with us yesterday to know if she should be baptized on December 18! She is really progressing! She'll be coming with us to a couple more members this week so it will be really good! Rose and her two grandchildren came to church yesterday too! We hope to teach them tonight!
Thank you so much for your love and support! I love this season that we have to celebrate the birth of Christ. Even though we will be far apart for the holidays, my thoughts and prayers are always with you! I can feel your warmth and love all of the way over here in the Netherlands! I love you!


Monday, November 22, 2010
Hey Family! I can't believe that you have had so much snow in the past couple of days! The winter season has finally hit! It is pretty chilly here but at least we have no snow...yet! Are you getting excited about all of the holidays coming up? I just can't believe that Thanksgiving is this week! We were invited to go to a Thanksgiving with Familie Koot and the four elders here in Den Haag which I am sure will be a lot of fun! Sister Koot's mom is from America so she knows how to make a real Thanksgiving dinner with all of the fixins’ so I am sure that we will be spoiled! I will be thinking of you and especially how THANKFUL I am for all of you! I hope that you have a very Happy Thanksgiving full of love and gratitude!
We had a week of miracles again...I don't think I will ever not have one on my mission! Our teaching pool has been filled and we are busier than ever! Cevesta still has a baptismal date for the 18th of December and he is working towards that. He is keeping his commitments to read and he really hungers for the truth as we teach him. We are hoping to give him a church tour this week! Mary is also getting so much more interested in the gospel and what the Restoration means to her personally. She came to church yesterday and the ward members are receiving her very well. She is planning on attending allof the holiday festivities with the ward and we can see that her desires and testimony are growing and changing. Suleyka, an investigator that the elders were teaching that they passed to us, is on the verge of having a baptismal date too! She is 22 and so amazing! She has been taught all of the lessons but now needs to develop a testimony and receive a confirmation that the things that we are teaching are true. She's coming right along! Rose came to a church tour on Saturday with her 2 grandchildren! We were so excited that she actually showed up! You know, I think I let myself get so casual with the church buildings that we have and that we are blessed to be able to use but during the church tour I was reminded that the church buildings are dedicated buildings and that the Spirit is present there. I could feel it as we walked with Rose through the building! When we entered the chapel there was a special peace and warmth that flooded over all of us. She committed to come to church this next Sunday! And do you remember Kimberly? The one who never wanted to come to the church again? Well, every once in a while we get a feeling that we need to just call her up. I got that feeling on Friday and after the conversation on the phone I knew exactly why! She made an appointment to meet with us the next day, Saturday, and we had an excellent appointment! She has been reading in the Book of Mormon on her own and she said that she would come to the YSA center this coming Thursday and that she will definitely come back to church! I have such a special and deep love for her and I know that Heavenly Father's love for her is even stronger. I know that she feels the Spirit but all of the changes that would come with becoming a member of the church seem so overwhelming to her. Her family is really active in their Methodist faith and I think that she is scared with how they would react to her joining another church. I hope that she'll have the strength and faith to do it! We also have a new woman that we are teaching, Iteke Blauwer. She is 61 and her husband passed away from cancer 2 years ago. When we knocked on her door she told us that she had a Book of Mormon sitting on her shelf in her living room. She invited us in and sure enough she had one there! It was one of the older versions that her husband had received when he had investigated over 20 years ago. It is really wonderful because she is open to the gospel because it was something important to her husband. She wants to learn more about the Plan of Salvation, especially life after this life, and we can't wait to teach her this week!
We also had a Zone Training Meeting this week and we talked about extending commitments to people as well as ways we can reach our goal of 150 baptisms for the year 2010! We have already had 111 so we are really close! Please pray that we can reach our goal!
Thanks so much for all of your love and support and prayers! I am so thankful for all of you and for my Savior Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for the plan that Heavenly Father created for us that brings us so much joy, happiness and hope! Have a great week! I love you!!!!
Love, Lauren

Monday, November 8, 2010

I am pullin a 4th transfer in Den Haag with Zuster Pierson!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010
Hey Fam! How was your week?! Can you believe we are already well into the month of November? Crazy, huh! Well, a lot happened this week so I will fill you right in! But before I get started I just wanted to thank you for the AWESOME package! I finally got it on Wednesday and it was like Christmas! Me and Zuster Pierson were both dying about how cute the boots are! And they are so warm too! I also love having my brown boots and the Temple Ensign and the notes! THANKYOU SO MUCH!
Well, Ronald's baptism didn't end up going through. It was a sad couple of days but we definitely had the confirmation that it was the right thing. He was so excited and so set on getting baptized on November 6 and his baptismal interview went well on Tuesday but we had an appointment with him on Wednesday morning and he told us that he had slipped and smoked one time the night before. He didn't want to admit or think that that would stop his baptism from going through and I didn't really know how to address the situation right there in our appointment with our joint-teach member so I just went on with the lesson. Turns out that Zuster Pierson didn't catch the part in Dutch when he said he had smoked so it was a test of my integrity as to whether I was going to call the baptism off or just go through with it and hope that everything worked out. But I knew that I could not lie to my Heavenly Father and I knew that it would be best for Ronald if he wasn't baptized until he was fully living the Word of Wisdom. I called President Brubaker up and explained the situation and he got back to us really quickly. He had one of the Zone Leaders, Elder Wells get in contact with Ronald to try to work things out. It was a little intense and I have never prayed so hard in my life that Ronald's heart would be soft to receive the news. Ronald was pretty persistent and he and Elder Wells finally made an appointment to meet together so they could talk face to face and come to an agreement about what the will of the Lord was. They met together on Friday morning, right before we had an appointment set with Ronald. They prayed together and Ronald said that he still felt really good about it all, but Elder Wells knew it wasn't the right thing. Since Ronald just wouldn't take no for an answer, and our appointment was supposed to be starting, Elder Wells sent him into us and he went out to call President to ask for further advice. That appointment was difficult! I could see that Ronald was not open for the spirit and was not humble to be taught and we all knew that his baptism just couldn't go through. At the end of the appointment Elder Wells pulled him into a separate room to tell him that he could not get baptized on Saturday. I am so thankful that Elder Wells was so willing to do all of that! Ronald was really upset and without saying goodbye he rushed out of the church to work. We didn't know what was going to happen! When we got home we saw that we had missed a call from him so I called him back. He said that he was quite disappointed but that he felt that it was right. We felt such a sense of relief and were so thankful! He said that he was willing to work towards baptism the next week. WAHOO! We went further with our day and when we got out of another appointment we saw that we had a new message from Ronald. When I listened to the message I was in pure shock. He told us that he never wanted to meet with us again and that he would never join the church! I just wanted to cry! I called back and talked to him and he was not open for anything. After that he sent a lot of unkind texts and it ended in such a sad way. I am still hoping and praying, along with all of the ward members here, that he will come back around. He can do it!
So we are pretty much back at square one with missionary work, everyone has dropped us or lost interest. It is great though! The Lord has a plan for us and we continue to see miracles! Thank you for your prayers and support! THEY HELP! I love you all so much and I hope that you have a wonderful week! These are the last days and Satan’s influence is strong but as we continue reading the scriptures and praying we will have the Lord's power to overcome all temptations. I know that is true! I LOVE YOU!
Love, Lauren

Ronald is getting baptized this week!!!

Ronald is getting baptized this week!!!
Monday, November 1, 2010
Hey Family! Thanks so much for your words of love and support in your e-mails this week! I have felt your prayers in my behalf and I am so stoked to be able to serve the Lord for an extra 6 weeks. That's not something that very many missionaries get to experience so I consider myself very blessed!!! I think that it is so funny that you thought that it was Glen part 2...with the way that it all happened I don’t blame you! I called President last Monday and he was certainly surprised that I already knew and that you knew too. I think that that e-mail was definitely not supposed to be sent but I figure that the way that it happened was the way it was meant to be! President assured me that it is definitely the will of the Lord that it all happened and that he is grateful that I will be here for another 6 weeks. I am so grateful too! I am just excited to keep serving and trying to fulfill the things that the Lord expects of me.
Going to the temple on Tuesday was a huge blessing to be able to think about things, especially the extension, and get the confirmation again that it is right. Being in the temple two times in one month was absolutely incredible! It was also great to get together for Zone Conference again. By the way, we are having a special sister’s conference today and that is why my e-mail is so late. This is a onetime only thing and all of the sisters in the mission are all here in the mission home right now. We left Den Haag this morning at 7 and we arrived in Brussels at 10. We got to spend a couple of hours together at the Grand Plaza shopping and enjoying a Belgian Waffle. We then went to the mission office for lunch and training from President and Sister Brubaker about the Book of Mormon. It was really powerful! I am so thankful for that book and I know that it is a witness of the divinity of Christ and the evidence that the Church of Jesus Christ was restored. I love it so much! After the training we came to the mission home, had dinner, and now we are e-mailing and having a movie night watching the "Preach My Gospel" DVDs and eating popcorn. We will have a short council after the movie and then hit the hay. In the morning we will get up at 6:30 and then head to Antw erpen for a special outing. It is so great to be in the mission home all together as sisters and we are certainly building each other up! It's a once in a mission moment!
So Ronald is getting so close to his baptism! He has been struggling with the Word of Wisdom but on Friday we called him up and let him know that he had to start living it for good on Saturday to be able to be baptized this Saturday. We were nervous to see what his reaction would be but he was so excited and had full faith that he could do it. I have never prayed so hard for anyone in my life! I know that stopping smoking, drinking, and cocaine is harder than anything that I have done in my life but I know that he can do it! So many members have really gotten involved in his conversion process and they are all praying for him. It is amazing to see how missionary work brings so much unity! Familie Scherf invited us and Ronald to come to their home for dinner on Saturday night. We had a wonderful meal and then Ronald asked Brother Scherf to give him a blessing to help him prepare for baptism. The spirit was so strong as he received a blessing and Heavenly Father's love for him was really apparent. It was awesome! Then, out of so much love, Brother Scherf offered to start fasting at that moment with Ronald that he would have the strength that he needs to overcome his addictions. He went home that night and threw all that he had away and has just been praying and fasting! His faith amazes me. Keep him in your prayers, just like I know you already do! I can't wait to tell you about his baptism next week!
Bisou and Mary are still doing great! And we found two new investigators, Cevesta and Tamara! We are being so blessed. I will know about transfers next week. I would love to stay here in Den Haag but I know that I will be wherever I need to be. It's always exciting with transfers!
Thanks so much for your little Dutch blurb! That was so cute and sweet...how did you do that?! I looooove you and I hope that you have a wonderful week! I never stop praying for you and thinking about you! Thanks for EVERYTHING!!!
Love, Laur