Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"Your sorrow shall be turned into joy" John 16:20

Here it Nikki's letter from this week on January 26th!

"The hospital--yay! This is when I got the MRI"

"The mission home"

"mission home"


"At the hospital"

"At "mini holland"--we went there a little while ago--it's a really cool place with tiny replicas of places all over the Netherlands"

"my friends...."

"my friends...."

"real or fake?"
"still mini holland--fake"

"I felt like Will Ferrel in Elf...."

Hello! I'm alive!

Well, I am currently emailing off of Zuster Robinson's computer. After my MRI appointment on Wednesday, Zuster and President Robinson picked us up and took us to our apartment. When we were about to get out of the car, Zuster Robinson said "Pack your bags and I'll get both of you tomorrow morning--Zuster Thomas, you're going to stay with us at the mission home, and Zuster Faasavalu, you're going to Den Haag." We were a little surprised, but we packed up, and arranged things with the elders in Zoetermeer so that they would take care of our investigators while we were gone.

So, since Thursday, I've been here at the beautiful mission home. It's very peaceful and quiet, which has been really good for me. Zuster Faasavalu was told to take the phone, so I've had no updates or communications with our investigators of Zuster Faa--well at least until yesterday when she called to update me. She is doing a great job at taking care of things in Zoetermeer while still being in Den Haag. To be honest, after we hung up, I cried like a baby (I may have cried like a baby later on as well…). I miss the people there so much, and it literally aches to not be with them and not be doing missionary work. I am very blessed to be able to stay here with President and Zuster Robinson and get to know them better and learn from the Spirit that is so present here--but it has been hard--physically, emotionally, mentally, etc. 

Most of the day I spend trying to study, resting when I need to, helping Zuster Robinson or President with things they need help with (cooking, dishes, computer things, etc), Zuster Robinson and I have had some really nice chats and so have President and I. They are an amazing couple--I've really learned a lot from them. We went to Eindhoven yesterday for church because the Robinsons were invited to speak there. I think I confused a lot of people there--many people thought they had gotten sister missionaries--I had to do a lot of explaining. I felt a little bit like when I stayed with Erica and Andrew to help them move--I'm pretty sure everyone was confused when they saw two women, a man, and a little girl. But it was great to meet the people there.

Oh my gosh, I don't know why I didn't put this first. I had a really cool experience this past week! Friday night, the Robinsons invited a man named Diedrik over for dinner (he is on the board for the netherlands lds Facebook page). He brought his girlfriend, Sofia Sosa. We were chatting and I asked where she was from--she said Ecuador. I asked where in Ecuador--she said Quito. I asked if she knew Elder Thomas. Her eyes lit up, and she said yes! She didn't know Josh super well, but she said that her brother did--Andres Sosa (he was the 1st counselor in the Stake Presidency in Laga something..he was also a bishop at some point). It was such a cool experience--we talked all about Ecuador, Josh, Elder Hess (she knew him really well). Apparently her mother always invited the missionaries over. Sofia is amazing--she was inactive for a long time, and she was in the car accident where her father passed away. She said her brother was always trying to get her to come back to church, but once he became bishop, he just focused on loving her. Then he invited her to watch General Conference, where President Monson talked about losing his wife, and it hit her. She came back to church and came to the Netherlands to be an opair.  

Anyways, this week I'll be going to Zone Trainings with President and Zuster Robinson, and hopefully on Wednesday I can go back to Zoetermeer. Today we're going to the office and I'll help with what I can there. I still have a lot of pain, but I'm learning to work with it. Thank you all for your prayers, love and support--I love you all so much.

I've been able to study a lot (well…I'm not able to study as much as I used to yet, but you know what I mean) in the New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Preach My Gospel. I feel like this experience has helped me to deepen my understanding of my purpose as a missionary--I truly have learned so much. Something I learned just today was from John 16--I would encourage you all to read it. Christ is talking to His apostles about how He is going to leave them soon, and how the Holy Ghost will come to them. The chapter has taught me more about Christ and the Holy Ghost's characters as well as trials. In verse 20, it says:

20 "Verily, verily, I saw unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy."

The apostles didn't fully understand what was going on at the time--they were sad that Christ would be leaving them--when we face trials, we often feel sorrow, pain, despair, etc..and we don't fully understand what is going on (a big reason why we we feel sadness in my opinion). However, our sorrow will be turned into joy when we realize the blessings and purposes of the trial that we faced, just as the apostles did. When they saw the resurrected Savior, when they understood why He had to leave them. So as we face trials, we are to look for understanding, to look for the purposes and blessings that are attached to the trial. There is a lesson to be learned in each situation we are placed in. There are experiences we will have, people we will meet, and lessons we will learn--and these things are only possible for us to experience as we face trials.

Ik ben dankbaar voor de beproevingen in mijn leven. Ik heb veel van hen geleerd. De Heer kent mij persoonlijk, en ik ben zeer dankbaar daarvoor.

Zuster Thomas

Monday, January 19, 2015

I may never be fully satisfied with what I do, but I can be fully satisfied with what the Lord does through me

Nikki's email from today, January 19th!

"Pictures--it is so foggy this morning! We took some pictures--so beautiful"

Hey everybody!
So, transfer calls were last night and Zuster Faasavalu and I are both staying in Zoetermeer (hooray!).

And, for a health update...this past week turned out a little different than expected. Tuesday we got the ok to go to district meeting in Den Haag, and afterwards we had a really good lesson with Angela about Christ, His example, and baptism. She told me that I didn't look very good at all (I'm kind of tired of people telling me that) and that I needed to go and rest. I really wasn't feeling very good at all, so we called Sister Robinson and she sent the zone leaders to take us to the emergency room. They wouldn't see us though, because here in the Netherlands they will only take you in the ER if you just got hit by a car or are on your deathbed. So we talked with Sister Robinson and our ward mission leader and got an appointment with a doctor the next day--he sent me to a neurologist and I got a CT scan--everything there looked normal. I'll get an MRI and have an appointment with the neurologist. I'm getting better slowly but surely. I still have head pain and eye pain--anyways, thank you for the prayers!

So, we were allowed to do one thing a day last week, so we didn't get to do a ton, but what we were able to do was really great! We had some great appointments and I had one of the coolest contacts of my whole mission this past week. We were walking home from the tram stop and we stopped this Muslim man named Medhi. At first he wasn't very interested, but after talking with him a little bit more, he talked about how hard his life has been--I was about to bare testimony to him of our Savior's love for him, and that Christ knows him and his pains and experiences. He began to cry, and we gave him a Book of Mormon and our card. He gave us his information and we will be meeting with him later this week. it was a really powerful experience.

The members, as usual, have been so kind and good. Yesterday at church people kept coming up to us to make sure we're ok, that we have enough food, etc. And Wouter gave his first talk in Sacrament meeting yesterday!! It was so great--he told his story of how the sister missionaries found him and how he gained his testimony. So beautiful.

Sorry the subject title is so long this week, but it's one of the many lessons I've learned recently. In the very beginning of my mission especially, I struggled with feeling inadequate--I still do. While I was on bedrest, I had a lot of time to pray and to ponder about what I believe, about my mission so far, etc...and that thought came to mind. I don't think I will ever be fully satisfied with myself or what I do while I'm here on earth--there is always something to improve and some mistake that can be found, because I'm not perfect. But Christ is. And as His missionary, He can work through me, and I can be fully satisfied with what He is able to do through me. Even though I didn't teach Wouter perfectly, the Lord was able to touch his heart and bring Wouter closer to Him. That's how it is with all the people we work with. And it's true for all of you as well--He can work through you--we are His hands here.

Another thought I wanted to share quick is from the end of Luke 23 and the beginning of Luke 24. I've been studying Obedience this past week, and I've also been reading a little bit from the New Testament each day ever since I got to the Netherlands. The past couple of days my obedience studies and new testament studies have overlapped. At the very end of Luke 23, it talks about how the women came to the tomb where Christ was and prepared spices and ointments for him. Then, they kept His commandments by resting and keeping the sabbath day holy. Then, the next day, very early in the morning, they went right back to Him and used the spices and ointments they had prepared. To me, this shows how tightly connected obedience is with love. these women showed their utmost respect and love for Christ by preparing spices and ointments, but also by keeping His commandments. We can show our utmost respect and love for Him by obeying all of His commandments--no, we won't be perfect--but our effort to obey Him is a really beautiful way to show our love for Him. I don't know if that makes sense to you all, but it struck me.

Anyways, I love you all so much. Thank you for your prayers, support and love.

Zuster Thomas

Monday, January 12, 2015

The grass is green and the doors are purple

Nikki's email from today, January 12!


Well, I'm alive and I actually got to go outside today! To be honest it feels kind of strange, and I'm already pretty wiped out--but it's exciting! My concussion has turned out to be a lot more severe than we initially thought, but I'm getting better and we get to go out and work this week! I probably won't be able to do a full day's work right at first, but we'll do our best to do as much as we can. Zuster Faasavalu is an angel--she is so kind and caring, and the members and our investigators are amazing--I love them all so much. We've received so many phone calls and meals from people--including our investigators--and the elders in Zoetermeer helped us a lot--getting groceries, going to our lessons for us, etc.
Oh, funny story--apparently I freaked my companion out this past week when I would tell her the same stories over and over again--yay concussions---don't worry though, I don't do that anymore. We've had some funny moments together though--I mix up my words a lot and just say funny things sometimes and don't realize it until Zuster Faa points it out...we've gotten to know each other really well and tried to make the most of our time together. I've had to just lie down and rest a ton this week, but when I've been able to, we've had some great talks...I just love her a ton.
I forgot to tell you about last Sunday at church--we were only able to go to sacrament meeting, but before it started I was talking to Zuster Ehrari, and she told me that she had been up until 2 AM that morning, but that it was worth it to come to church. She said that before she started coming, she had a lot of hate in her heart--she looked at the world and saw hate, and she was very unhappy. When she came to church, she felt relaxed, and she said that as she has been coming to church each Sunday, she has felt more love in her heart and found more room in her heart to love others. She is so sweet and is hoping to be ready to be baptized in the near future. She is so kind--when she heard about my accident, she called and said "If you need anything at all, I'll do it, anything. I'm just like a friend for you, ok? So just let me know" So many others have said similar things--I love these people here so much, they fill my heart with so much joy and love.
The subject title is a quote from a couple weeks ago actually, but I wanted to share it. There was a day after my accident (before we got doctor's orders to stay in) when we were both feeling kinda down, so we decided we would make it a happy and good day and that we would pick out the good things--and when we went out the door to go out and work, I said "Look! The grass is green!" (it's's January and the grass is super green!) and Zuster Faa said "And those doors are purple!"--for some reason that got our day started off on a really good note, it probably sounds kinda funny, but it really did, and we had a really happy and great day of work. We saw miracles that day--while we were biking we saw a less active that we had been trying to get ahold of--we set an appointment with her too! And we stopped by another less active that day and had a mini lesson with her. We had some other great lessons/contact with investigators/recent converts that day too. So anyways, Zuster Faa and I say "the grass is still green" and "the doors are still purple'' to eachother a lot to help lift eachother up and to help remind us to look for the good.
I am so grateful to be a missionary. Even though I haven't really been able to do missionary work these past couple of weeks, I still love these people and this work. I love the Lord and I love the opportunity I have to serve him here amongst all of these amazing people that I love so much.
Zuster Thomas
Pictures: (I need to catch up...)
There was a double rainbow on Christmas!
Our Church building! This was on Christmas--can you believe it?

It's about love

Nikki's email from January 5!

Well, this week has been an adventure--we had to stay in for a lot of the week because of my concussion, but we did get out to meet with some people--unfortunately it was still too much for me. We've kept President and Sister Robinson updated, and the doctor said that we need to treat it as a serious concussion and that I need to stay in until Sunday. It's hard and painful, but we're still seeing miracles. Even just this morning, as we were waiting for the tram and one of our investigators was there--we got to chat with her while we waited and on the tram.
Now onto the happy parts of the week--Ashil was baptized! He had a big smile on his face the whole time, especially when he was baptized. I asked him how he felt right after, and he thought for a minute, smiled and said "blij." I gave a talk on the Holy Ghost and I didn't pass out, so that was good. He received the gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday--so special. He has such a good heart.
Well, sorry that my week wasn't too exciting--this coming week will be full of my laying and trying to get un-concussed. The Sister missionaries in Den Haag are coming one day this week so that Sister Faa and one of them can go out and work and the other will stay with me. The members are taking good care of us.
One thing I learned this week is that it's really all about love. I love these people, I love this work and I love my Heavenly Father. Even though I have a lot of weaknesses an make a lot of mistakes--even though I'm imperfect, love makes it enough. Jesus Christ makes it all enough. And I am so grateful for that.
I love you all and pray for you every day. I'll do my best to heal quickly and take care of myself. I received a priesthood blessing last week, and in the blessing I was promised that Heavenly Father would take over until I could again be an instrument in His hands.
Zuster Thomas