Thursday, April 30, 2015

I Know that My Redeemer Lives

Nikki's email from April 6th!

"cathedral! in gent"


"at the castle!"


Hey everybody! What a wonderful week--General Conference was outstanding--and I haven't even watched the last session yet (we'll do that today). I put a star next to each speaker's name that I felt really spoke to me...and I ended up starring all the talks. Each speaker was so inspired, inspiring, loving, and amazing. After I talk about my week I'll go through some of the things I learned.

Monday we went to Gent! It was really fun--we ate at Pizza Hut (wohoo so European....actually it is a lot different here, but still...the Elders from our Zone wanted to go....). Anyways, Gent is really beautiful--we went in a couple of beautiful cathedrals and also a castle there. It was really fun! We had a really cool miracle that night--we had the impression to call up Ann and invite her to come to Family Home Evening at Sister Vanwawa's (she has us over for FHE if we have investigators to bring). She was able to come and we watched the first half of the General Sister's Meeting--it was so good. Ann got pretty emotional and told us that she had just had the most terrible day and that she felt very peaceful with us. She felt the spirit very strongly--something that has been difficult for her. Her and Sister Vanwawa clicked really well too--it was such a spiritual experience. We are going to Ann's tonight for dinner and a lesson :) she is so sincere, kind, and has a true and pure desire to follow God.

We met with Sena this week--she was baptized recently but hasn't been able to come to church because of her crazy work schedule. We watched part of Sister's Conference with her as well--she loved it. She is from Africa and has such a cool way of expressing what she believes. We will be meeting with her more in the future. 

Brother Schiltz told us to visit with a woman who owns "The Little British Shop" in the centrum--he gave her a Book of Mormon a while ago. We visited her (and got some cadburry eggs for easter :) ) and have a great discussion with her about our church and what she believes. And she has the cutest little shop--I'm excited to chat with her more.

I had an experience this past week that I will never forget. Susan, a less active, called us a little while ago to schedule an appointment, and this past week was our appointment. We didn't really know what to expect or what her story was, but we prayed to have the spirit with us and we prepared according to the impressions we had. From the moment we sat down she was pretty closed off and very convinced that the Church was wrong. We asked her why she asked us to come, and she wasn't really sure--she had a friend from Gent (I had dinner with her when I was on exchanges) that told her she had the missionaries over and that it helped. 

She was very open in her concerns and was very convinced that she was right. I don't think I have ever felt so guided by the Spirit. I sat, listening to her talk, and I said a silent prayer to Heavenly Father asking for guidance. And He guided me and Sister Young. We testified powerfully of the Book of Mormon and of the truth of the Church. We made some progress with her, and both of us left that lesson with pain in our hearts that she was so unopen to search for the truth, but with strengthened personal testimonies.

Now, for GENERAL CONFERENCE!!! Wasn't it amazing?? A couple things I really loved:

Elder Bednar's talk on fear was so amazing--I loved when he was talking about the final judgement and said "I don't believe we will be afraid of Him at all." I also loved when he said that we cannot be good enough on our own--we are made whole only through the Atonement.

I loved Wilford Anderson's talk about "learning the dance steps" and how we need to "listen to the music" to learn the steps--and relating that to how we need to heart the spiritual music in our hearts to learn to "dance" in the gospel. 

I loved Michael T. Ringwood's talk about doing good things because we love God--not because we want recognition or power. 

President Uchtdorf's talk on grace was so beautiful--I am so excited to study all of the talks again and again!

A couple things that really stood out to me from Conference was that I want to work more on totally relying on the Spirit and focusing on the Savior. I am so grateful for the leaders of the church and their inspired words they shared with us.

I love you all! I know that Jesus Christ lives--I am so grateful for that knowledge and truth.

Zuster Thomas

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Be the Lord's Friend

Nikki's email from March 30th!

"we went on a ferris wheel right by centraal station"

"from the ferris wheel!"

"from the ferris wheel!"

"on the ferris wheel"

"everyone taking pictures"

"pretty belgian houses"


"I went to Gent on exchanges! Beautiful sunset"

"Me with Sister Begazo"


Hey everybody!

This past week was really great--and it's finally starting to look like spring!

This week was a bit busy--we went on two exchanges and also had Zone Training this past week--but everything went really well! Zone training was really special--the Spirit was very strong throughout the whole meeting. We started off the meeting by presenting our "zone vision" which is "receive the Holy Ghost" with three underlying topics: Effective Prayer, Becoming the Lord's Friend, and Experiencing a Change of Heart. The Zone leaders did a great job on their talks, Elder Lyman talked about Effective Prayer and compared it to scuba diving (he talked about how scuba divers communicate with eachother and the safety rules of scuba diving) and Elder Childs talked about having a change of heart--he compared physical changes of the heart with spiritual. And I talked about Becoming the Lord's Friend. I am really grateful that I got to study and prepare to talk about becoming the Lord's friend. 

I used the story in the New Testament when Christ asks Peter three times "do you love me?'' and talked about how being His friend means being His disciple. I then used the following quote and focused on it for the rest of my talk:

I testify that as you love Him, trust Him, believe Him, and follow Him, you will feel His love and approval. As you ask, “What thinks Christ of me?” you will know that you are His disciple; you are His friend. 
-Elder Neil L. Andersen

I went through each point (love Him, trust Him, believe Him, follow Him and ask yourself 'what thinks Christ of me?') and talked about how we can strengthen our relationship with Christ. After that we had lunch and the District Leaders taught lessons about different sections in Chapter 4 of Preach My Gospel on the Spirit. We then showed "The Voice of the Spirit" and had a few missionaries share their testimonies along with President and Sister Robinson followed by the Zone Leaders and myself. The Spirit was very strong, and at the end we gave everyone about 5 minutes to ponder and reflect on what they learned and felt during training. It was very powerful. 

We also had a very special lesson with Agnes this past week--she was baptized last transfer and has a beautiful testimony. She shared with us her strong desire to share the gospel with others, because she wants to share the happiness the gospel has brought her with others. She is going to come and work with us one day this week and we are so excited.

I am so excited for General Conference this week! What a blessing it is. On my mission I have come to love and appreciate the words of the prophets even more--which reminds me, I highly recommend reading the Ensign for April--there is an article about the difference between weaknesses and sin that is amazing.

I love you all and am so grateful for each one of you. I am so grateful that Easter is this week--what a miracle it is that Christ lives. I know that He lives and that He knows us each individually and loves us each unconditionally and perfectly. 

VEEL Liefs,
Zuster Thomas

Monday, April 6, 2015

To Invite, We Need to Already Have Accepted the Invitation

Nikki's email from March 23rd!

"there's a ferris wheel by centraal station! We're going on it today"

"the missionaries in Antwerpen have a health plan for the transfer,  and our reward for doing it this past week was getting a waffle--kinda ironic, yes, but delicious :)"

"Sister Van der Scheer!  The first one is kinda funny--one of the sisters tried to take a video but ended up taking a picture."

"Sister's Conference! With my MTC sisters"

"MTC companion Sister Whittington"

"Sister Training Leaders and Sister Robinson"

"Beautiful Belgian Sunset"
"The Antwerpen Elders"

"Antwerpen Elders and Sister Young"

"Me with Sister Fleming and Sister Begazo!"

Hallo iedereen! Hoe is het?

This week was amazing and filled with so many great things! 

On monday we had a zone p-day--we played soccer, which was super fun. I got to see three elders from my MTC group which was really fun. After that we had a lesson with Lynn, a super prepared investigator. We had a great lesson with her about obedience and receiving the strength to obey. We also found a super cool swing at a park. That was great.

Unfortunately I got pretty sick on Tuesday--fever and stomach stuff, but I'm better now! And Wednesday totally made up for that--we had a miracle day on Wednesday. We had a great lesson with Agnes about the plan of salvation, then contacted in the centrum and found a few people that were interested, and then we went to our lesson with Nathalie. I LOVE Nathalie--she is so excited to learn about the gospel. We talked with her about the plan of salvation as well, and she loved it. She was so happy to know that we believe that families can be together forever. The spirit is always strong in lessons with her. 

After Nathalie we had our first lesson with Hichom (we still don't know exactly how to pronounce his name). He actually contacted us on the tram last Monday, and we gave him a Book of Mormon and got his information. We taught him about the Restoration, and he had already done research about the Church and had great questions. After Hichom, we had dinner and a lesson with Ann--Ann is AMAZING and so sweet. She made Thai food for us (super spicy, but good) and we taught her about the Restoration as well. She is so sincere and has a heart of gold. She has come to church every week and is so giving and friendly to everyone. The members love her!

We had a good lesson with Natasha this past week about how faith leads to action--we had a great discussion about what we can and need to do with our faith so that it can grow. She is very wise and has great faith.

We had dinner and a lesson with Dirck and Krystal--less active members--they are very kind, humble people and it was  really nice to get to know them. Krystal had had some foot problems, but she said that they can come to church now--they weren't there on Sunday, but hopefully next week!

On Friday we travelled to Zoetermeer (!!!) because we had Sister's Conference on Saturday morning at the mission home. We got there just in time for a dinner appointment with Zuster Van der Scheer!!! She knew that two other sister missionaries were coming, but she didn't know it was me! She was so surprised and it was such a wonderful reunion. She kept saying how happy she was to see me and I kept saying how happy I was to see her. It was wonderful. And we got to stop by Zuster Uljee to say a quick hi and give a spiritual thought. She hadn't been coming to church lately I guess, so it was good to be able to meet with her for a bit.

Sister's Conference was wonderful. Sister Robinson gave a great talk on being courageous and kind, President talked about listening to the Spirit and the APs talked about being self critical and also confidence versus pride. All of the talks were wonderful and hit topics that the sisters in our mission really struggle with. After lunch the sister training leaders spoke.

At Sister's conference, I spoke about how we can't invite others to come unto Christ is we haven't come unto Christ and continue to come closer to Him. We have to have accepted the invitation ourselves before we can extend it. We read through the story of Peter walking on water, and I talked about a couple different things:

1. Why did Peter want to walk on water? Simply because he wanted "to go to Jesus." He loved Christ and knew He loved him too. He had a relationship with Him and was focused on Him. 

2. How did he know he could walk on water? We read earlier in the same chapter (Matt. 14) of Christ taking 5 loaves and 2 fishes and making it enough to feed 5,000 men (not counting the women and children there). I think Peter may have made the connection that Christ does the same with us--we give him something that is inadequate--5 loaves and 2 fishes--and he makes it enough. Peter knew that he could trust Christ. And we can trust Him too.

3. We read the part when Peter starts to sink. For whatever reason, he lost his focus on the Lord, but he cried out to the Lord and asked for His help. The Lord didn't tell him to swim. He immediately grabbed hold of his hand and lifted him up. The Lord knows that we will have sinking moments, but He will never tell us to swim. He will lift us up and help us to keep walking on water.

Anyways, I went more in depth with each of these points, but I really learned a lot while preparing my talk. One quote I used that I really loved was 

"The task ahead of [us is] never as great as the power behind [us]."--Brad Wilcox

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week! 
Zuster Thomas

I love being a missionary

Nikki's email from March 16th! Sorry I am so behind at posting!

"Antwerpen Centraal (part of it--it's HUGE)

"WAFFLE! There is a really yummy waffle place in Antwerpen Centraal that we've gone to a couple times"
"At Missionary Leader Council (accidentally matching with Zuster Fredrickson and Zuster Robbins)

"Zuster Robinson (she works in the office with her husband--they went to church in Zoetermeer for a while, so we've gotten pretty close)"


"Elder Childs...he's one of the Zone leaders and works in Antwerpen--he's hilarious...and he put on my coat one time"

Hey everybody! 

This week was a great one--I'm loving getting to know all of the people here--they are so wonderful and each have a unique story. God truly loves all of His children and it's amazing to see His hand in each of their lives.

We met with Natasha this past week--she's a really kind woman from Suriname, and she has a beautiful testimony. We talked about prayer, and she is a great example of praying always--she has a lot of struggles in her life, but she prays very often throughout each day, and she said because she does that, there is nothing that she's afraid of and nothing she can't do. 

We also met with Veronica, a super classy woman from India--we had a great lesson with her and she is really sweet--she is Muslim, and we talked about all the similarities between our two faiths and also the differences. One thing I've loved learning on my mission is how many similarities there are between religions, but also that there are important differences between them--it's so important that we find out for ourselves, through study, prayer and the Spirit, what/where the full truth is.

This past week all of the missionaries in Antwerp were asked to sing at a funeral--none of us knew the man who died, so it was a pretty unique experiences--we sang "where can I turn for peace" (in Dutch). 

Other than that, this week has been filled with great missionary work and meetings! We had Mission Leader Council this past week at the mission home--where all the Zone leaders and Sister Training Leaders meet and discuss issues, goals, and how we can improve the missionary work here. We also talk about zone visions, which is basically what our zone training (we have a zone training every other month which the zone leaders and sister training leader in the zone give). The meeting was really good--President Robinson talked about having a true change of heart and how we can keep it--through faith and repentance. Zuster Robinson talked about exchanges (part of my calling is exchanging with sisters in our zone, for example, this past week I went to Turnhout and worked with a sister there and the other sister from turnhout worked with Zuster Young in Antwerpen) and how being a leader is really about serving, listening and loving. It was also fun to see friends from the mission that were there--like Zuster Fredrickson, Zuster Robbins and Zuster Adams. 

Zuster Young is awesome--we work really well together and have seen so many miracles together. We both want to follow and work with the Spirit and do what God wants us to do, which has made all the difference. I love being her companion! We have so much fun and such spiritual experiences. This past week, we gave Cynthia, one of our investigators, a call to see how she's doing--she told us that she is stopping smoking (we just started teaching her and haven't even talked about the word of wisdom yet) and that she has a friend that wants a Book of Mormon as well. Last time we met with her, I left a copy of the Book of Mormon (I didn't realize I had done it) and she is going to give that copy to her friend and we will probably meet with bot h  of them this week. 

Last p-day, we were waiting for other missionaries and WE were approached by two people who wanted to meet with us. The miracles we are seeing here are incredible. Ann came to church again this past Sunday and we will be meeting with her this week.   And she will make us Thai food :) 

I LOVE being a missionary--I love feeling a bit of God's love for His children. He loves YOU more than you even know and can even understand. You are never alone. Missionary work, the gospel, life--it's all about love. Pure, gentle, kind, selfless, tender, beautiful love.

I also want to wish Grandpa Thomas a happy birthday. Thank you Grandpa for your example, your love, and your light. I miss and love you. I know that we will all see him again some day. When we teach about the plan of salvation, I often talk about Grandpa Thomas (and Grandma Monk) and how  grateful I am to know that I will see them again. 

Zuster Thomas