Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lesson from this week: Send your doubts to Duitsland

This is Nikki's second email that she sent this past Wednesday to us, no pictures this week!

Dierbare Familie! (Dear family)

THANK YOU so so much for all of the dear elders, letters and emails--each note lifts me up and helps me to keep going each day. I send tons of love to all of you and hope that you are all having a blast at the beach. I miss you all, but the Lord blesses me each day with the ability to focus and to want to be here and to work hard. I feel blessed to be able to work with God as His missionary.

To explain the subject, we learned this week that the Dutch word for Germany is "Duitsland" and it is pernounced like "doubtsland" so just send your doubts to Duitsland ;) I have learned that we need to put aside our fears, self-doubts, etc. and completely rely on God. He can and will provide for us.

 This past week was so great, even with its challenges. We started teaching a new
"investigator" this week--it was our teacher, Broeder Klippel, acting like someone he taught on his mission. He does a good job at not sugarcoating things and giving us a "real deal" experience. We started teaching our second lesson with him and he was pretty obvious that he wasn't interested, so we followed the spiritual promptings we had and it turned out to be a great lesson. He said that he feels hope for himself now--hope that he can believe in God and be freed from the anger and guilt he has in his life. We taught him how to pray, and it was awesome! Not perfect, but great.

This week we have really learned a lot about how to teach people and not lessons. Our teacher pulled up videos from NY Times, each clip had someone telling their story. After we watched a clip, he would assign two missionaries to teach something to that person (he would pretend to be the person in the clip). It was such a cool experience.

We got another permanent teacher, Broeder Lewis, who turned out to be "Pascal"--the first person we taught. He is really good at teaching! Yesterday Sister Oscarson spoke at our devotional and it was so great! She shared mission stories from her family and shared the lessons that her family members learned from their missions. We sang "Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer" and it was so wonderful. That night made me more devoted to giving my mission my all. It is a little frustrating because, even though I love my district and zone, they socialize way too much. If I could, I would just go somewhere really quiet and study, but since we are to stay with out companions, I've been trying to figure things out. 

My companion is great--it can be hard at times, but we are learning a lot from each other. We are total opposites, but when we both listen to each other and especially when we pray and study together, we work really well as a companionship. She is super social and loves people, which is helpful in lessons and can be tricky during study time. I love her so much though!

Although there are a lot of hard things we do every day here, there is so much peace, guidance and joy in this work. I feel like the MTC has got the perfect formula for spiritual growth here. I feel closer to my Heavenly Father and I feel the reality of the Gospel more and more each day. Thank you so much for your support and love! I love you SO much. 

met heel veel liefde,
Zuster Thomas

You can email Nikki at where she will read and respond on Wednesdays or send her an email on that she will get that day as a printed off letter, where you will have to click on "Write a Missionary" and fill out information for Sister Nikki Thomas Unit #87 and SEP16 under the estimated departure date!

Lesson from this week: Look Heavenward and outward

Nikki is loving the Missionary Training Center so far! This is her first email that she sent us on August 13th (sorry i'm posting this a little late) and some pictures that she sent us!

Nikki with some of the Sisters in her district!

Nikki said that when they were having a tough day learning, they wrote everything they knew in Dutch on a whiteboard and felt a lot better afterwards for how much they knew :)

Some of Nikki's district!

Nikki pointing to the Netherlands!

Nikki's district at the temple!

Nikki and her companion during the MTC!

Geliefde Familie (Dear Family)

I hope I can answer all of your questions! Thank you for all of the emails, letters and Dear Elders--we all LOVE getting mail during the day, and the Dear Elders and letters truly help me so much each day.

This week has been full of almost every emotion I think I have. I've felt really discouraged, I've felt homesick, anxious, I've felt pretty hopeless, but I have also felt the Spirit so strongly here, and I have felt such joy also. There were so many times this week where I just wanted so badly for Mom, Dad or any of you to just hug me and tell me that everything would be alright. It is really hard here, it feels like we're all drinking out of a fire hose, but God is kind and patient and has helped us so much.

So we have been teaching an "investigator" named Pascal this past week--we taught him 4 times, all in Dutch! It can be stressful to prepare a lesson each day, but two of our lessons really stood out to us as being led by the Spirit as we planned and taught him. My favorite moments in our lessons so far include when he asked me why we need to feel pain, and I told him that Christ knows his pain, my pain and everyone's pain and that we have pain so that we will pray (that's about as far as my Dutch could take me). Also, yesterday I told him that I knew the things we taught were true and that I hope that he will know it too and he said that he hopes that too. 

I'm in the MTC choir and it is amazing. We sang Nearer My God to Thee and we learned about the meaning behind the song and the director made it so powerful. The song is about Jacob in the Old Testament when he has to leave because his brother wants to kill him. It was awesome and the meetings here are amazing! 

My schedule has been changing a lot but we are finally in a set schedule--we wake up at 6:30, get a "sac" breakfast, eat and study a little, exercise, get ready, go to class from 9:50-12:50, lunch, preparation time for our lesson, then we teach our lesson to our investigator, then we plan for the next lesson and study (I've been trying to study but our district likes to talk a lot so it can be really frustrating at times, it makes me feel like I'm not working hard which is just one of the struggles that has come this week). Then we have dinner, then we have personal, companionship and language study after that. We always begin and end class time with a hymn (in Dutch) and a prayer (in Dutch). After study time we go back and get ready for bed. I feel like I'm in some kind of a time warp here because the days feel so long, short and full.The Dutch is coming well, in my lessons I can answer questions so my investigator at least understands a little better, but I know that my sentence structure needs a lot of work. I'm learning to love this language, het is geweldig! 
My companion is doing pretty well, we feel like either she is having a bad day or I am, but yesterday we balanced out so we both had a good day after we taught our lesson to Pascal. Our lesson was totally guided by the Spirit, it wasn't perfect, but we felt so grateful that the Spirit was present. He said that he will pray about being baptized! 

This is hard work, and I have a lot of moments when I wonder what I got myself into. But then there are always always peaceful, spiritual and joyful moments that follow the self-doubt and discouragement. I have developed more of a testimony of how much we can rely on Jesus Christ. 

Ik houdt van jullie! I miss you all!
met liefde,
Zuster Thomas

You can email Nikki at where she will read and respond on Wednesdays or send her an email on that she will get that day as a printed off letter, where you will have to click on "Write a Missionary" and fill out information for Sister Nikki Thomas Unit #87 and SEP16 under the estimated departure date!