Nikki's email from December 8th!
"My broken bike was still outside Zuster Van der Scheer's from last week--I guess nobody wanted it! You can kind of see how messed up the front tire is"
"Zuster Van der Scheer's--she has so many books, and she has a lot of really cool church books--she's just the best, I'll try and get a picture with her soon"
"Familie Kaaijk! (we were on exchanges--Zuster Otteson was with me)"
"Last p-day we went to a Christmas tree place--they had tons of little villages with Christmas lights and such--it was awesome"
"one of the little villages from the Christmas tree store"
"I don't know if you can really see it, but that's one of my bruises from the accident. I think it looks a lot worse in person, but my soccer player self just thinks it's an awesome bruise."
Goede dag familie! Oh how I love all of you--thank you for your emails and for the letters you've sent in the mail--I loooove it, it lifts my spirits.
SO, we got transfer calls last night--I'm staying in Zoetermeer and training!!! I'm really excited! And I'm really glad to be staying here. I'm really getting to know and love the people here, and I'm really grateful I get to spend Christmas here.
This week was great, it was Sinterklaus this past week, so everyone here was super excited for all things Sinterklaus--you should google it, it's a really fun holiday. Some of the traditions are:
-kids can leave their shoes out and Sinterklaus will fill them with treats
-lots of presents, and the present are often wrapped in paper mache (how do you spell that? I can't spell English words anymore....oh no)
-chocolate letters and kruidnoten are two really common treats for Sinterklaus...and they're delicious
We celebrated Sinterklaus with Zuster Van der Scheer (Dutch grandma)--it was really fun, we had dinner, played a game and gave eachother gifts--she's the best.
This week was awesome with the people we're working with. Wouter is on fire--he received the Aaronic priesthood and had his interview for his temple recommend--he will probably be going to the ward temple night on Tuesday!
Angela is doing really great, she came to church with us yesterday, and she is awesome--we had a really good lesson with her this past week--she's really open and kind...and also really busy.
We had dinner with Familie Kaaijk, Wouter, and the Elders this past week, and it was really fun. Familie Kaaijk is awesome--Rens, the dad, is a convert of about a year, and his wife is from Ecuador!! (I told her about you, Josh--she is from the Gui Acylll (I have no idea how to spell that) area, but she was excited to hear about you) and they have a daughter that is really fun--she's about 14. I've somehow become the baker here--when I walked into Familie Kaaijk's house, Veronica (the wife) said 'Sister Thomas, do you have any dessert recipes you can make?' It was kinda funny--they had no measuring utensils, eggs, brown sugar, etc...so I made peanut butter cookies....it was an experiment, but it turned out ok!
Jimmy and Jetti have been taking lessons with the missionaries for a long time, and this past week we had a really good lesson with them, and their 18 year old son sat in for the lesson. They are so sweet, and they always try to feed us or give us something to take home for later. Jetti and I click really well--we both really like cooking/baking and we just get along really well-- and they love having us over.
Ehrari is one of our new investigators, and she is AMAZING. We taught her about the gospel this past week, and she said "do I need to schedule an appointment for that?" Her son has been reading every day in the children's version of the Book of Mormon and loves it--and she really wants to be baptized, but she said she needs a little time. She said that the only reason she didn't come to church last week was because her son couldn't come, and he wouldn't let her go without him. They came yesterday and she brought both her sons (10 and 4 years old). They loved it! Ehrari loved how peaceful and nice everything was--and guess what--she fasted. In our lesson with her this past Friday we explained that this Sunday would be a little different because people would be fasting, and we taught her about fasting. She said she wanted to do it too--she is so amazing. We've become really good friends.
We got to go to a baptism in Den Haag this past week and it was so special. I love going to baptismal services--it really strengthens my testimony of the gospel and of the importance of baptism.
We've been working with two less actives in particular for the past couple of weeks--Elfride and Zuster Uljee--and things are going really well with both of them. Ahhh I just love these people so much!!! Elfride has been coming to church and we've had some really good lessons with her. Zuster Uljee is going to come to some of the Christmas activities--I'm singing in one of the programs for the ward, so she will come to that. This past week we've been dropping off little bags with sinterklaus snoepjes (treats) and little cards with the Christmas activies on them--it's been a great way to contact less actives.
Oh how I love this work--I love sharing my testimony with people, helping them understand how personal God is, how loving He is, and helping them see the path that He wants them to follow. This past transfer I've really learned more about my relationship with my Heavenly Father--I've learned that He will never let me fall. He will let me struggle, He will let me stay in the refiner's fire for a little, but He is always aware of me, and He will never let me fall. When I go into lessons, He gives me the words to say. When I don't know what the best use of our time would be, He guides my thoughts. When I'm preparing for a lesson, He shows me the best way to teach it. When I feel down, He brings someone or something to lift me up.
I love all of you, and I love this time of year. It snowed a little bit this past week! I was so excited. I love everything about Christmas time, it brings people together and directs our thoughts to the true gift of Christmas--Jesus Christ.
I love you all so so much,