Saturday, February 28, 2015

It's all Him, not us

Nikki's email from this past week, February 23rd!
"While I was in Amsterdam I saw the Olympic stadium from 1928!"


"We saw an albino pigeon"

Hallo iedereen!

Well, this past week was great--still having pain and such, but we're doing our best and seeing miracles!

We had a great lesson with Angela this past week about faith. She always says that she wants to be totally sure about her decision before she is baptized--we talked with her about what faith is, and how much we need to rely on it. It was a beautiful lesson and we could really feel the Spirit there. I've been studying the New Testament since I got to the Netherlands, and it's really helped me in lessons like these to share stories about faith and healing.

We've really seen a lot of miracles while traveling to appointments. I LOVE talking with people on trams or while we're walking somewhere. We met this young man named Dylan the other day, and he was very open and wants to learn more--we've been meeting a lot of people that are very open, which is a miracle. We've also had a ton of opportunities to serve people while travelling, which has been wonderful. Also, we have a music concert on the 7th of March, and that has been a really great way to invite people to church. I think I will be transferred before the concert, but I will find out this Sunday. Anyways, people are great, and I love loving them.

On Thursday I went on exchanges and worked in Amsterdam with Zuster Adams (she was in my BYU ward)! It was so great--we had a great day of work and catching up. Things in Zoetermeer went really well that day--Lucie is doing really well, I am really anxious to meet with her again because I wasn't there for this past week's meeting.

We had a lesson with George this past week, and he pretty much said he wants to stick to his own church. We had a great discussion about faith and personal revelation. The Spirit was strong as we shared our testimonies with him. We told him about the music concert, and he said he probably wouldn't come. About twenty minutes after the lesson, he called and said ''Actually, could you give me the information for the concert?'' I know he felt the Spirit during that lesson.

On Friday we watched Finding Faith in Christ with Irene, and it was really cool. She has such beautiful faith, and when she said the prayer before we left, both me and Zuster Faasavalu could just feel her testimony. She is so wonderful and we're excited to meet with her again.

On Saturday, during lunch, Zuster Faasavalu and I had a really wonderful talk about Christ, His love for us, etc. The Spirit was really with us, and I said ''Ok, Zuster Faa. We have the spirit with us, and I feel like we need to look up this person.'' We went and she wasn't home, but I knew that we were supposed to be in that area. So we went around in the neighborhood and knocked doors for a little bit. The very last door we knocked was the person we were supposed to find. He has never been religious, but he has a desire to know. We're going back to meet with him this week. Also his mom is a witch. Fun twist.

Yesterday was great--we had dinner with Zuster Rol--she is an artist, and I was looking around her house and noticed a new painting. I complimented her on it and she was SO excited--and when I told her I paint too she was like a little girl who had just won a pony or something. She said ''Oh Zuster Thomas!!!'' and just gave me a hug. Her son came and brought a friend that isn't a member, and we taught him about the Restoration with the Elders--it was really cool!

Also, today on the way to church (we're here playing games with other missionaries in our district and a member who likes to hang out with the missionaries) we saw a pony. We see ponies and horses along the street near the church a lot, but THIS time I got a picture.

One thing I've really learned on my mission is that none of us can or should take any credit at all for what is accomplished on a mission. I really felt that for the first time with Wouter--I cannot take any credit for anything that has or will happened to him. That was all the Lord. Heavenly Father has simply blessed me with the opportunity to love, help, encourage and learn from him. I learned that again with Ashil, and with everyone that I've come to know here. There was a missionary I was talking with the other day that went on about how many things they had accomplished on their mission, and it drove me a little crazy. I just wanted to say (and I pretty much did, in a loving way) that this is all the Lord's work, we are just His tools, His hands. I love being able to feel and be guided by the Spirit. That is when I know that I am a true missionary and servant of the Lord--when I am lead by Him.

I love you all!
VEEL liefs,
Zuster Thomas

True believers offer sacrifices to the Lord

Nikki's email from February 16th!




"De Zuster--we found this in Delft!"

"We also went to the tallest building in Den Haag for lunch with our district last p-day!"

"from the top!

Hey everybody!

This past week was wonderful--I just love these people so much, and every time I meet with anyone here, my love for them grows and I feel my gratitude increase for the opportunity I have to be a missionary here.

Last P-day, we went to Delft! It was fun to go back there again; it is a really pretty old city. We climbed up the tower in an old church (we did that last time too) and I got a couple of Delft blauw things (a teacup and a cute little windmill thing--I will probably send those home soon). We got Zuster Faa and Zuster Huber (the sister from Den Haag that was with us for a little bit) to eat harring--brought back some not so delicious memories.

We had a really wonderful lesson with Lucie this past week. It was just her and her daughter this time, so it was a lot easier to have a more focused lesson. We brought a glass jar, sugar, and three random objects. I told Rosanna, her daughter, to put the sugar in and then try to fit the three objects in--it didn't work. Then we took everything out, put the three objects in first, and then the sugar, and it all fit. We talked about putting the more important things first in our life--a.k.a. the gospel. They made their own goals on how they could put the gospel first in their life--the spirit was there in that lesson and we had a really great discussion on baptism as well. It's Lucie's birthday tomorrow! And Zuster Van der Scheer's!

Jimmy and Jetti had us over for dinner this past week and we had a great lesson with them afterwards. We talked about the Atonement--something I have been studying lately, and it was a really great discussion. Their son, Joey, has been listening more and more to our lessons, and he asks a lot of questions. In this past appointment, he even helped explain something to his dad. Hopefully they will get to church really soon--we've been working hard on getting them to come. They are so sweet--they always feed us--I feel like they're my Surinamese grandparents :)

We worked in Den Haag a little as well this week, since no Sister missionaries were there--I loved getting to know the investigators and members there a little better.

We had our first lesson with George! It was really great. He is so enthusiastic about life and faith--we're looking forward to our next lesson with him.

This past Saturday during our studies, I had the distinct impression to call Irene, and when I did, she told me that she was really ill. The Zone leaders were coming to work with us for a little bit that day, so we asked her if she wanted a blessing--she said yes, so we came over. We had a really wonderful spiritual experience with her. We talked about the priesthood, about healing and faith. The blessing the Elders gave her was really beautiful. She said that she felt better after the blessing as well.

The musical group of Elders were in Zoetermeer the past few days meeting with the members in our ward--and on Saturday we went with them to Zuster Uljee's. She looks so much happier and brighter--she told us that she was buoyed up after coming to church and that she will keep coming. It was a great appointment.

We went and worked at Wouter's again this past week! President even came. It was pretty fun--Dad would have loved it.

Now, about the title for the week. Like I said earlier, I have been studying the Atonement a little this past week, and in the Bible dictionary it talks about how true believers offered sacrifices to the Lord. As we sacrifice something we may want now for what God wants for us, we become true believers--we strengthen our faith in Him and receive blessings. And His plan for us is always better than our own.

I love all of you and I love being a missionary!

Zuster Thomas

Monday, February 9, 2015

Nikki's email from today, February 9th!

"so beautiful!"

"baby cow!"


"these posters are all over the place--no clue what it is for, but i love Eliza, so here you go!"

Hallo iedereen!

This week was great. Not necessarily because I feel better (it's pretty much the same right now) or because I can bike (not quite yet) or anything like that, but because this past week I really felt myself become a better servant of the Lord, and He let me see the fruits of that this week as well.

By the way, we are a threesome at the moment--one of the sisters in Den Haag is not doing too well, so her companion is here with me and Sister Faa for a little! It's great!

I mentioned in previous emails how I feel 'rebooted' as a missionary--the time I had not being able to work gave me the chance to step back and really think and pray about the kind of missionary/person the Lord wants me to be/become. And being able to take the steps to become that person has been a really wonderful experience. I feel more sincere while talking with people and teaching them, I feel the Spirit more, I am able to understand people more and love them more as well. 

First of all, I just have to say that Zuster Uljee came to church yesterday!!!! For all three hours. The last time she came to the church building was for the opening day (about a year ago), but the last time she came to church for the sacrament/sunday school/etc was about 5 years ago. There is a new group of four elders in our mission that are traveling around the mission singing in wards/stakes. For a month they work in one stake area, singing in one ward from the stake each week, and then at the end of the month they will be holding a fireside. They sang in our ward yesterday, which was the perfect way to get Zuster Uljee to come. 

We had dinner with Zuster Uljee this past Thursday, and for the spiritual thought, I shared scriptures about our baptismal covenants, and we talked about the sacrament and why it's important. She said 'Well, I'll just say it girls--I know I need to just go to church.' She told us she just needed to find skirts. She asked us to sing for her, so we sang
Abide With Me Tis Even tide, and she teared up--the Spirit was so strong. We then invited her to come and hear the Elders sing, and she said ''├ôk girls, we're on!'' 

One of the most powerful moments yesterday at church was sitting next to Zuster Uljee and partaking of the sacrament with her. The sacrament truly is so powerful and necessary, and I am so grateful for it. 

We had a great appointment with Angela this past week about temples. She is really excited to go into the temple one day. We talked with her about how she was feeling about baptism, and she said that the minute she feels ready to be baptized she will text/call us. She is so sweet and is just waiting to feel ready. We're trying to help her to realize how much we need to go off of faith and also how we can recognize answers.

Wouter is doing so great--we had a lesson about scripture study with him this past week, and we set up a personal study plan for him. He set an alarm on his phone everyday to read in the scriptures. He showed us three little calves, one of which is only a couple weeks old--I'll attach a picture of me with the youngest one. 

We also met with Marleny and Rumi this past week, and things are going well with them. It's been cool to see Marleny become more open as she's gotten to know me and my companions more. It's really been a blessing for me to be here for as long as I have, because being able to build real relationships with people makes all the difference. She told me that one or two times a week I can come by and she'll give me a massage to help my head feel better--when I first met her, she was pretty inconsistent and hard to get an appointment with--now she has opened her house to us whenever we need anything, and we're going to start teaching Rumi more frequently.

We taught a Hinu woman named Ilsa this past week for the first time. She's a spunky woman from Suriname, and we had our first lesson with her this past week. It went pretty well, she's very interesting and has had a very hard past. Hopefully we'll be able to meet with her this week.

Rukhsar Ehrari (Sister Ehrari) is doing so well! And Ashil is too. We challenged them to read every day in the Book of Mormon, and I sent them reminders every day--and they did it! Zuster Ehrari has been having a lot of stressful things happen with her job, and she said that reading in the scriptures and praying helped her feel more peaceful. And Ashil is really starting to take the gospel to heart more and trying to become a better person.

We met with Elfride and her kids this past week as well! They are so wonderful, and Elfride is such a wonderful mom. We talked with Samantha about how baptism cleanses us from sin. I told a story about when I got a really cool new white shirt that I loved, and one day I wore my new shirt and played outside, in the creek in our backyard. I got stuck and fell in the mud and got mud all over my new white shirt. But, because we washed it, it was white and clean again. I truly believe and know that through baptism we can be cleansed.

Irene is doing really well, we have become really close over the course of time I've been here. Mos (he comes on joint teach with us for Irene..he is hilarious and very kind and from Iran) invited us, the Elders, Irene and Wouter for dinner on Saturday, and we watched the 20 minute Restoration film with Irene. She showed me pictures and videos of her grandkids from her phone, and we had a really good chat about her beliefs and how she's doing. Mos is a really good cook, and usually he doesn't let me know about the secret ingredients his uses, but this time he let me see how he makes his famous chocolate cake. I'm going to have to try it out one of these days.

On Saturday, before our appointment with Ashil and his mom, we looked up a couple of less actives nearby, and I felt that we should knock a couple of other doors nearby one of the less actives' houses. Our second door, a middle aged man opened the door--it was my turn, so I talked with him about why we're here and talked with him about faith--he said he is very religious and quickly invited us in (since there are three of us we were allowed to go in! Hooray!) We had a great lesson with him about the Book of Mormon, faith, God, etc. He is really excited to read in the Book of Mormon and we have a lesson with him this week. I'm so excited about it!

This past week, I read in Acts 5

 But certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife,sold a possession,
 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privto it,and brought certain partand laid it at the apostles’ feet.
 But Peter said, Ananias, whhath Satan filled thine heartolie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the pricof theland?
 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it wassold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceivedthis thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
This story made me ask myself if sometimes I keep something back from the Lord. Do I hold something back because I'm 'privy to it?' This past week I've really worked on giving everything to the Lord--to really focus on my relationship with Him. As I've done this, I've felt myself becoming a better missionary, servant of the Lord, and person. I still have so far to go, but this past week I've truly learned that when you strive to give Him all that you are and all that you have, He gives us so much more. 
I love you all!
Zuster Thomas
Also, to add to my general email:

Yesterday when I was in church, I realized how at home I feel with the people here. They feel like family. All of them. We all just have such love for eachother, and it's amazing. 

Our bishopric was changed yesterday as well--Broeder Nijenhuis, who was our ward mission leader (he was awesome at his calling) is the new bishop. He helped a ton when we were trying to get an appointment with the doctors here. He is going to be a great bishop.

We need to put away the sword

Nikki's email from last week, February 2nd!

"On the tram!"

"A pretty windmill by the Robinson's home"

Hey Everybody!
Guess what? I'm back in Zoetermeer! It's great to be back.

This past week with the Robinsons was really good though--I've learned a lot from them and we got to know each other really well. They are truly amazing. It was great to go to so many zone trainings and learn from the missionaries from different areas of the mission. I confused a lot of people though, being a sister missionary without a companion (well, Zuster Robinson was my companion). We went to Eindhoven last Sunday, where President and Sister Robinson both spoke--some of the members thought they had finally gotten sister missionaries, so I had to explain my situation to a lot of people--some people thought I was the Robinsons' daughter. We went to Zone trainings in Amsterdam, Den Haag (my zone--I got to see Zuster Faasavalu and Zuster Westland--my Dutch companion--came to the training! It was good to see all the missionaries from my zone), and Eindhoven. The trainings were all on Chapter 10 in Preach My Gospel, which is about teaching skills.

On Friday I came back to Zoetermeer--I'm only allowed to do half days right now, but we can push it out a little farther each day. I'm also not allowed to bike until my head pain is gone, and we're going to try to find a helmet today. It was great to see all of the members yesterday at church--I've really missed all of them. And we had a bunch of investigators come yesterday! Irek, Irene, Zuster Ehrari, Lucie and her daughter--it was wonderful. Wouter got a new suit and tie, and apparently last week he blessed the sacrament! The people here are so amazing--I love them so much.

On Friday/Saturday, we did a lot of contacting/look ups (look ups are when we look up former or potential investigators), and we found a couple of really great potentials. One woman, Ilsa, is a really fun woman from Suriname and she teaches zumba. She invited us to come to a lesson one day and she told us "there are a lot of cute young men there, so you should really come!" it was pretty funny...Anyways, we'll be meeting with her this week. We also met a nice man name Erwin on the tram--he was wearing a bunch of New York Yankee clothing, so we talked about baseball and such, and then we had a great chat about faith--we're really excited about him, we should be meeting with him this week too.

Also, we had a lesson with Medhi, the really cool man we met a couple Sundays ago--it was a great lesson--he is just looking for something in his life to help him feel less lost--it was a really great opportunity yesterday for us to testify to him of the healing power of the Atonement and of God's love for him.

So you're probably curious about the title for this week. Well, I was reading in John the other day about when Christ suffers in the Garden in Gethsemane and soon after, a group of people come to take Christ away. 

10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.

11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

Peter didn't fully understand all that was going on and the reasons therefore (sorry, I don't know how to properly say that in English)--he just knew that He loved Christ and didn't want these people to take Him away--he wanted to protect Him. But Jesus, knowing that all these things needed to happen, and knowing why they needed to happen, told peter to put up his sword and explained to Peter that this is what God has sent Him to do. He then heals the servant. I think we are all a lot like Peter sometimes, when we face a trial or difficult circumstance. We don't want the change, we don't want this hard thing to happen--but we don't see the reasons for that hard thing--we don't understand. But we need to put up our swords and trust that God knows what He is doing--that the lessons learned and strength received from that trial is worth all the pain and anguish we face in trials. 

I love you all, thank you for your prayers and support. I still have pain, but I'm just grateful I get to go out and work, and I am grateful for the miracles I've seen. I'm so grateful that even though I can't do as much as I normally could, the Lord is blessing us with opportunities to find and teach the people here.

Ik hou van jullie!

Zuster Thomas