Thursday, September 25, 2014

A leap of faith is the best mode of transportation

This is Nikki's email from her first week in the Netherlands! Her Preparation Days (P days) have now been changed from Wednesdays to Mondays, so if you want to send her emails, (to she will be able to see those bright and early Monday morning!

She didn't leave captions this week for the photos so I will try to best guess what they are of!

Cool building in Almere!

(im guessing this is her church building!)

The streets of Almere, Netherlands.

(i think here she is getting her first bike!-in the Netherlands they bike everywhere)

Part of her apartment!

Part of her apartment!

Her companion who she is living with, Sister Packer!

Hallo from Almere! 

Thank you for all your emails, it was so nice to hear from everyone!

I have a lot to catch you all up on! Our flight from Detroit to Amsterdam was so long and cold, but I sat next to a woman who is a missionary from a different church. We had some really interesting chats and I gave her a passalong card. President, his wife and the Assistants to the President picked us up at the airport and we went to a hotel nearby. We traveled to Rijswijk for some legal things and the office Elders had us contact a little on our walk to and from the train station. It was a little stressful, but the first woman we talked to only spoke English, so that was good I guess--I felt like Elder Calhoun a little bit.Then we napped at the hotel (glorious), had dinner, then had a testimony meeting and found out where we were going to serve! 

The next day, Sister Packer picked me up and we had an adventure getting all of my luggage onto and off of the trains. I got to meet some other missionaries, which was really fun. We did some legality things in Leiden, which is gorgeous by the way. Then we went to the mission home and had lunch, then went to our apartment! It's a really nice apartment, we have a washer and lots of space! I unpacked a little while Sister Packer made some appointments, and then we biked to a couple houses to drop off thank you notes. It is SO gorgeous here. Even though the city is really new, the trees and water and bridges...EVERYTHING is so gorgeous. I feel like Monet would want to just hang out here and paint all day. 

The next day, we knocked doors! I was nervous, but now I'm way more comfortable! We gave away TWO Book of Mormons and both people are new potential investigators! It was so exciting. The woman, Chaya, who sent Mom a FB friend request, had us over for dinner--she sent you a message with a picture too. She's the best.

The first lesson we taught with a progressing investigator was in English (can you believe it?) There are quite a few people here who came from Africa and don't speak Dutch, and this was the situation with Aimable. It was a simple but great lesson. He has a hard time understanding the priesthood, and I told him a story about when Dad gave me a blessing when my back hurt and the pain went away! It was great. After that we went to a part-member family's house to teach the daughter and to have dinner. It was really fun--the daughter is really energetic and speaks Dutch fast, so it was hard to understand her but it was a great experience. 

We helped out Chaya with her garden on Saturday and we also got to help her neighbor with his garden. His wife just passed away and he is ill, so it was a great opportunity for us to come and help and get to know him a little. 

People keep telling me my Dutch is good, but it's hard for me to understand people fully and also to use all of the Dutch I have in my head. I love this language and having it all around me though. 

My companion is amazing. It's actually her last transfer before she goes home (Josh, you can take her out when she gets home--she's from Pleasant Grove! Nat you can all meet up with her if you want too!) She is so fun, kind, good a cooking, and all things awesome. She's really good at not stressing out, which is something that has been so helpful for me these first few days. It's really been a miracle that I've been able to transition so quickly. Heavenly Father has really blessed me. I'm happy here and I love the people.

Also, on Sunday, the Bishop had us talk in sacrament meeting and he had me introduce myself and bare my testimony--in Dutch!!!! It was kinda scary but really great. There was a break the fast after and I got to meet a lot of members. The ward here is great! There are two families from MN here! We went to a birthday party of at an inactive family's house--we got to sing the Dutch happy birthday song and have some yummy food! Then we contacted and visited potentials. 

We went shopping today and I had the best cheese I've ever had. It had pineapple in it! Also, I got a sweater and some boots--there were some good sales so I didn't spend too much, at least I think. 

I love it here! It's definitely an adjustment, but I love it. 
Zuster Thomas

P.S. We got to talk to Nikki on the phone on Monday when she was traveling in the airport to the Netherlands! It was the first time we had heard her voice since she left and it was awesome! We can't wait to skype with her on Christmas :)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Time goes by fast, make each day count

Nikki's last letter to us before she goes to the Netherlands tomorrow!

"Sister Bush--she's the best :)"

"massage train!"

"two of the Danish sisters--I'm their sister training leader--so basically I'm just there for them when they need me! I love them!"(talking about the picture above and below)

"Sister Noorda--she was in my ward at BYU!"

Dierbare familie,
I can't believe this is my last email I'll send you here at the MTC! It's gone by so fast...and kinda slow too, it's totally a time warp here. I'm really going to miss the people here and the awesome devotionals. I won't be quite as sad to say goodbye to the brick walls and the food ;). I have learned so much here and I'm so grateful for each day I've had here. 

The past couple of days have been really busy, and unfortunately we haven't had as much study time and exercise time as usual--I forgot to tell you that Sister Whittington and I are Sister Training Leaders for the Danish district, and yesterday some of the girls really needed someone to talk to, so we spent a lot of time last night trying to help them out. I really felt like I was able to help and comfort them, which was a really great blessing, because it's kind of terrifying that I'm going to be in the Netherlands in just a couple days! I'm so so excited too, but it's a little scary. 

On Wednesday, I saw one of my dear friends, Sarah Linford, on our way to the temple. She was reporting to the MTC that day and I had no idea! I saw her with her family and we had a slow mo kind of run towards each other. We hugged and cried and it was so wonderful. Heavenly Father is so good to us. 

It was really fun to meet Nick yesterday[our brother Josh's friend and roomate]! We were actually going to be driven by another man, but I saw Nick come up and talk to our driver and I said "Hey! You're Nick! You're my brother's roommate!" and so then he drove us. He filled me in a little on how Josh is doing and how his date went (hint hint Josh, you should write me about your life soon). It was really fun and a tender mercy. Sister Whittington tore a muscle in her shoulder area and had to go to the chiropractor--she's good to go to the Netherlands. 


Zuster Thomas

"If there's something that's keeping you from feeling the Spirit: let. it. go." Brother Lewis

We got to hear from Nikki twice this week since she is leaving the MTC on Monday for the Netherlands! Here is her first letter and the pictures she sent! Just a reminder that you can no longer send her letters on because she is leaving the MTC tomorrow! It costs about a dollar for each letter you sent to the mission in the Netherlands through DearElder that you are more than welcome to do, I will let you know that information to send to as soon as possible!


"our hallway in our classroom building--lots of brick walls here"

"our classroom!"

"Sister Bush and Sister Watts!"

"a picture we took through the peephole in the door--we thought it would be awesome and it turned out creepy"

"Dutch scriptures!"

Hallo familie! Hoe gaat het? 

Thank you all for your dearelders and emails this week! I am so so grateful for all of you! Thank you for the dearelder package!!! It was so perfect, I've missed those kinds of snacks so much. I'm really ready to start eating real food again.

This week has been great! We got our travel plans on Friday--we (all 12 of the missionaries going to the Netherlands/Belgium mission) have a flight on Monday at 11:05 from SLC to Detroit Metro, MI (we'll get there 4:34 pm) then we leave Detroit at 6:16 pm for Amsterdam! We'll get there around 8 in the morning Netherlands time on Tuesday. I will probably call between the time we get to the SLC airport and when we leave and/or during our layover in Detroit--I think we get 3 phone calls, so I will do the best I can! I'm so excited to talk to you!!!

This past week has been full of a ton of different experiences. We've been learning a lot about teaching skills, Dutch, the Dutch culture, etc. This week has been long, short, and really fun too--our District has gotten to know each other really well, and it's really fun. One of the Elders in our District--Elder DeWitt--is hilarious. I think I laughed harder yesterday than I have in a long time. We were playing Catch Phrase with Dutch words and we could only speak Dutch. Sister Robbins spent like 5 minutes trying to get her team to guess the word "klinken" which means "to sound", and their team just had no idea what the word was, then all of a sudden he went "Oh, klinken" really nonchalantly. It was a lot funnier in person probably, but we spend a good couple of minutes laughing. 

One great lesson I learned this week came from the quote I put as the subject. Broeder Lewis taught us about stress, and how if being stressed or anything else keeps us from feeling the Spirit--from feeling close to God--that we need to just let it go. I think that's a really valuable lesson for everyone to learn in their lives. For me, I often get frustrated with myself or with my situation, when what I really need to do is let is go, move forward and trust God.

I am SO grateful for all of you. In one of our lessons this week, we taught about eternal families, and I brought a picture of all of us to show our investigator. It was such a cool lesson and I just love you all so so much. I am so grateful for the knowledge that I get to be with all of you forever.

Zuster Thomas

Also, I don't know if I told you all this, but our first Sunday here my companion got called up to the pulpit at the devotional and told her conversion story (it was crazy the following week, we got stopped every 2 minutes)...and this past Sunday she got called up again but they had me come and sit on the stand too--she spoke a little, it was fun!

Also we skyped with a woman from Breda, Netherlands--it was so fun! We all skyped with different people from the Netherlands and gave them a mini lesson. It was awesome

You can email Nikki at where she will read and respond on Wednesdays.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Love is always, always, always the answer

This is Nikki's letter from this week, and she finally figured out how to attach pictures with her emails!! I will caption the pictures as she described them to us in her emails, i love her captions!

"We learn a lot of words. Especially with Broeder Lewis[one of her teachers]--he just got back from his mission two months ago."

"this is us being serious."

"This picture is from our whole zone"

"And then Dutchie girls"

"This is a bit embarrassing because the Netherlands flag is upside down, but these are all the Dutchies (missionaries going to my mission)"

"Our classroom! We spend so much time in there"

"this picture is after we ran out in the rain after a stressful day"

"Sister Whittington (my companion) being really excited about learning"

"Sister Voss is really good at sculpting animals out of this moldable eraser we have. It's a big deal."

"One of my favorite paintings here"

Hallo mijn dierbare familie! 

Hoe gaat het? I am so grateful for all of you and the prayers, love, letters, packages, etc. that you have sent my way. I am SO excited for Erica and Andrew--a precious little girl, so wonderful. Nat and Erica, you're little girls will be close in age and have so much fun together! It was SO nice to see Carol yesterday, thank you so much for the package, it was perfect! She is so sweet and gave me hugs from you. I am so excited that Nat has been hired full time for Studio C! So great Nat! Sorry you're sick--you're in my prayers! You all are.

This week has been really great. I feel like this past week I've been able to remember and learn more of why I am here and why God wants me to be here. We've had some really great talks with our teachers here--one day we talked about spiritual gifts and how we each have unique gifts and need to use them and let ourselves be ourselves (well, we need to improve each day, but you know what I mean). We also talked about how stress and being uptight isn't what we should be doing--we should be concerned about the people we are teaching and we should be devoted, committed, obedient and hardworking, but not super anxious and stressed out. Another day we talked about what people in the world want--to feel important, loved, that they have a purpose here, peace and stability, security, safety, comfort. I have loved learning each day that missionary work is what I was hoping it would be all about: love. In the first couple of weeks, drinking out of the fire hose of the MTC sort of led me to think that I was supposed to be a certain kind of person--that I wasn't good enough. But this past week I've seen that Heavenly Father called me to serve Him in the Netherlands and Belgium because of who I am, who He knows I can become, and because there are people that He needs me to find and teach.

This week brought some hard things too, but something one of my teachers said has really made a difference for me each day. We were talking about the feelings that come from having a knowledge of God's love for us and of the gospel. He said that our goal is to help others feel that--to have the peace, love, and joy that is so fulfilling and amazing. He said "that's why you wake up every morning, that's why you go out every day and work hard--because God loves them and He wants them to feel that." (it was something like that). It really struck me--I've been here trying to learn Dutch and how to be a good teacher and be led spiritually, and it can be really stressful sometimes. But when you simplify it to "I love God, I know He loves me and I know He loves all of His children, so I will serve Him and help others feel that love." I don't know how I could go through life without feeling God's love for me, so I will do all I can to help others feel His love.

I love you all so much--you are all amazing examples to me. 

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: Our faith can help us influence any situation

Sorry I am a few weeks behind on posting! This is Nikki's letter from two weeks ago..enjoy!

Dierbare familie!!
Ik hou van jullie!! This week has overall been a great learning experience for me. There have been a lot of "growing pains" spiritually and emotionally, but Heavenly Father has never left me alone.

There really was a huge problem with socializing in our zone--our Branch Presidency talked with a lot of missionaries about focusing and such. I'm studying hard and also having a lot of fun. A couple fun things I wanted to share:

-I forgot to tell you this, but after our first lesson we taught, my companion and I were talking about what we learned, and she said "he is a brewer in Amsterdam" and I just started laughing, because "broer" in Dutch means brother--our investigator was saying that he had a brother in Amsterdam.

-Sister Robbins and I both love peanut butter, but she loves it with a passion I have not seen before ;) whenever someone says "pindakaas" she gets super excited and its really funny

This week we got a new "investigator" who is our new teacher Broeder Lewis pretending to be an investigator he had on his mission (by the way, Broeder Lewis knows Katie Haddock and Elizabeth Pankratz really well! His first name is Brian I think). Anyways, our new investigator is named Amid, and he is very logically minded, so it's been interesting and really great to teach him. Our lessons with Tony are getting better--yesterday we talked with him about God's love for him and also about faith. At one point I asked him who God is for him, and he sat there for a good couple of minutes thinking about it--it was a really powerful moment. When he answered, I felt a bit of how much God loves him.

My Dutch is coming along well, I love speaking it and learning new things about the language. Het is mooilijk maar het is mogelijk (it is difficult, but it is possible). I'm definitely being blessed beyond my own abilities with the language. One thing I have been really trying to improve is my teaching skills. Our teachers have been telling us more about how the Dutch people are and what approaches work and what approaches don't.

This week we did our first "TRC" which is pretty much like a family of members having you over and you share a message. We taught an older Dutch couple and they are so nice! It was a little hard to understand them, but it was great.

To answer some of your questions, I get to print off 5 pages of emails each p-day morning, so we wake up, put our laundry in, get a sac breakfast (there's a sac breakfast line where they have cereal and fruit and don't have to be in missionary clothes for it so it's nice), then print off emails. We read while we eat, switch our laundry, then email. For exercise, I can usually work something our with the other Dutch sisters and whenever one of them wants to run or use the machines I go with them. My favorite thing to do is run around the track--I could do that for a long time, it's such good stress relief for me.

Sorry this email is so long! I really want to share a moment with you all though. Even though this week has had a lot of good things, I would say this week has been one of the hardest so far. One day, during personal study, I just prayed to Heavenly Father for help and strength, and I poured my heart out to Him in prayer. As I prayed, the sun came out through the clouds. I could see the light through my eyelids, I could feel the warmth of the sunlight, and I could feel God's love for me so strongly in that moment. It was truly a healing moment for me. We are precious to Him.

The computers here keep not letting me attach photos, but I will keep trying with the time I have left. Ik heel veel hou van jullie!!!!! Het evangelie is waar. Door Jezus Christ kunnen we worden genezen. (The gospel is true. Through Jesus Christ we can become healed).

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!