So my investigator Robert and I had some good discussions, especially when we got onto the topic of the Plan of Salvation and the role Christ plays in the plan (which explains why he is more than simply a nice man.. he is literally our Savior), and he liked discussing the questions of the soul, and was pretty intrigued at my surety that I know where I come from, why I am here, and where I am going. He committed to come to church Sunday, and continued to ask during his daily meditation sessions whether God was there and really was his Father and knew him (his form of praying), so I was kinda disappointed when Robert came to class on Friday dressed as a teacher, with a Broeder Robinson nametag on... but I really like Broeder Robinson as a teacher (he only speaks to us in nederlands, yay), and he stressed how even though we were role playing, the Spirit we felt was not fake, and those discussions really helped him, Broeder Robinson, as a person (and teaching Robert definitely helped my testimony and me as a missionary, too). Tonight I get to teach Broeder Mohrman role playing as his past onderzoeker (investigator) Tom, a 60 yr old Dutchman who volunteers on the high council of the Reformed Nederlands Church which he goes to, and was in the area book for a potential investigator. I really like teaching (especially in Dutch), and it helps me at least as much as it helps the person I am trying to help, which is awesome.
On Thursday, we were planning for a scenario teaching Jens, a 26-yr-old raised atheist who is curious about other Churches, and I had one of those awesome moments where the Book of Mormon literally applied to a question I had in my life. I was pondering how to teach Jens and how to approach his relationship with God, and was reading in Alma 18 about how Ammon approaches King Lamoni, and basically modeled my conversation after them.. Jen, Do you believe in God? .. I know not what you mean...Jen, Do you believe in a great spirit or greater force of nature that controls and created the heavens and the Earth?.. etc. I could really picture Ammon and Lamoni as real people having the same real questions and conversations as people today, and I love moments like that because of course if I am so sure that Ammon was a real person, then of course Joseph Smith was a real prophet, and this is really Christ’s Church restored on the Earth, etc.
Broeder Klippel and Broeder Mohrman have also been stressing not making the classic missionary discussion mistakes of portraying the theme of "we have the truth and you don’t" by reminding us to focus on the main principle of the Restoration that we know the nature of God and that He still speaks to us today.. answers to questions that nearly everyone has in some form. I like the scripture in Luke 9 verse 50 when Jesus says, " Forbid him not, for he that is not against us is for us," and I would have to say one of the biggest lessons I am learning from teaching, especially Robert, is that we have a lot more in common with our investigators than we think, and they have so many truths to offer and to bring to the table.
Yesterday was my first regular Sunday, and our Branch desperately needed a pianist, so I volunteered.. provided I could choose one of the 25 hymns I could play, of course. For our Sunday night devotional, BYU men’s chorus came, and they were so good.. I teared up during the songs about brotherhood.. "He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother," "You Raise Me Up," and "Lean on Me" thinking about the great brothers (siblings) I have. It was especially cool because the husband of the newly wed couple who I caught I ride with to NorCal last Thanksgiving was killing it as their pianist and I got to talk to him after, and Larry from my BYU ward was one of the two speakers who shared his conversion story, and saw me and waved at me as he left. Yesterday also marked the second Sunday in a row of watching on film an awesome past MTC devotional given by Bednar... I really liked his stress on how we as missionaries have to earn the trust of the ward members to give us referrals by being focused, spiritual, and brief while at their houses, because we have work to do... I know we as a family talk about how we appreciate those focused missionaries who realize that while on the Lord’s time, there are more important things to do than play guitar/ cards and eat three helpings of dessert for hours at ward members' houses... so I’ll be doing my best to internalize that for the next 18 months.
Something funny is that the Elders in our zone looooove to recite page 33 in the missionary handbook ("do not be alone with, flirt with, or associate in any other inappropriate way with anyone of the opposite sex...") in creepy voices whenever an Elder and Sister seem to be smiling or joking around for too long, whether they know them or not...they're really cool and like our brothers. Sister Hartley and I have a lot in common- both did a semester and a half at BYU, both love running together during gym, same sense of humor... and it's fun to have Sister Johnson, a fellow-Dutch learner, to SYL (speak your language- or should I say 'sprek uw taal') with.
Also, here"s my testimony in Dutch, I bet you"ll understand more than you think you would!
"Ik weet dat God onze hemelse vader is. Hij heeft een lichaam van vlees en bendeeren, hij houdt van ons, en wij zijn zij kenderen. Ik weet dat Jesus Christus onze Verlosser ist. Ik weet dat wij op de aarde zijn, zodat wij onz waardig bewijzen kunnen, om terug te God te keren. Ik weet dat deze Kerk het hergestellde evangelie is. I weet, dat wij met God door bidden communicieren kunnen, en antwoorden krijgen kunnen, indiends wij luisteren. Ik zegge deze dingen in de name Jesus Christus, Amen."
I love you guys! Thanks so much for the Easter card, I love it, and all the stuff in the mail.. it´s all decorating my room! My comps all got a kick out of the jokes, and stay tuned for some new pen pals thanks to that!
Dad, Rachel, Josh, I bet “Lamb of God” was amazing, sad I missed it! Madi, I gave up my first P/day nap time last week and wrote you a super long letter but I think you´ll have to wait until you get home to get it because I don´t trust the Russian mail, ya know! But that is so exciting that you are working on your papers! Ahh! Isaac, have fun in Kyiev... omigosh, I have a bunch of Bubba´s friends from there and from Lviv...so if you see any giant pink shrimp costumes, they´re cool people that you should hit up and talk to haha. Mom, what´s your new book club book? Thanks for keeping up my blog, some college friends said they love it.. and Torri loves her "Toreo" nickname so much haha.
Remember: when you help someone else up a mountain, you're helping yourself up, too. Also something Bednar stressed: when you come home (what, it ain't time to think about coming home yet, I just got here haha) return to your families, but never leave the mission field. Happy Easter, He is risen!
Zuster Riley (: