"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"
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.
You can email Nikki at firstname.lastname@example.org where she will read and respond on Wednesdays or send her an email on DearElder.com 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!