Wednesday, July 30, 2014

17 - Groningen


Marleen is now officially a member of the church and I'm so happy for her- her baptismal service had a great turnout.. tons of members were out of town op vacantie, so we just invited everyone we knew, and there were more non-members than members there. It was great talking to her family who came to support her too, they're great people. 
We had a great lesson taught by all four of us (usually we split up into pairs to reach more people but there's a "3-man rule" with opposite genders) with Darren and Joriano.. we'd role-played trading off teaching points of the restoration, and afterwards Joriano told us that a lot of the questions he had in his head were answered during the lesson, which really strengthened my testimony that the lessons in PMG are inspired. Darren is so curious and everything is so new to him and it's so neat to see him find answers to his questions, too. 

Tuesday was exhausting in the morning because we had a lesson with an older celtic-christian man named Jan who'd approached us on the street a few days before.. turns out he was only interested in working for and benefitting from our "rich church" (he was pretty disappointed that leaders aren't paid.. and are members of our church) and scoffing at our belief that Lamanites/ Nephites lived in the ancient Americas when obviously only the Incas and Mayas did, and then accused us of being an ever-changing church because back in the 70's apparently some Elders told him that the Bible was for the Eastern hemisphere and the BoM for the Western (probably a miscommunication with the language voor/ van), and said he'd read enough books written by ex-members that he knows everything he needs to know.. and we haven't seen Jenny and Kimberly for almost two weeks because of vacation, but we'll probably have to move Kimberly's date back because we haven't taught her everything/ she's only been to church once (she gets up to go each week but her mom doesn't always, so we're working on a member carpool), but I'm excited to meet with them again this Tuesday because I really like their family.

We had a really cool first lesson with Kamiran who is Muslim and from where is now Syria- he loves reading and is really excited about the BoM and had a dream about Jesus so wants to talk to us and thinks it's really cool that young people like us are spending all of our time to help others come closer to Christ, and he also shared some of the Qu'ran with us and lamented over all of the Muslim traditions that are purely cultural and not from the Qu'ran.

We finally got to see Marieke again who is leaving to Utrecht soon for school and is really looking forward to a new start with new friends (strong JoVos there I hear!) with the morals of her friends in Utah from her study abroad. We met with Mickey and read about Nephi building a ship because he asked about the picture in the beginning, which he thought was cool because he applied it to him believing he could fix his car he's been working on, but he openly told us that he's happy with his life right now and honestly doesn't have that drive to pray and find out if there's more.. he's someone who doesn't know he's missing out until he sees what's there I think.

A lot of investigators' concerns (especially since we have so many young men in their 20s) are that they wanna still "be themselves", so we try and stress that by following commandments you are not becoming a religious robot; rather, you are becoming your best self. I feel so lucky to be meeting so many neat individuals. Zuster Koulen and I call each other "homies" and are always joking around and laughing, it's great.

Thanks for the letters/ DearElders! It's always so fun to come home after a busy day to one of those! Love you!
Veel liefs, 
Zuster Riley  

 Pics from Marleen's baptism! (:
 Like the dresses of my collegas-- recognize them? (: 
(the 4 missionaries are all wearing Eliza's dresses!)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 16 - photos

Got to see my MTC brotha Elder Henderson in Brussels! Glad to see he finally made it to the land. 

Iguanas at Juriano's!

 The 4-pan!
 Learning to make bami!
 Yum, bami (indonsian veg-friendly noodles) and some coconut ginger veggie stuff thanks to Mirjam!

 Brussels with Elder Cook for legalities! It really felt like a foreign country because everyone was speaking beaucoup francais!
 Dropping off flowers for a sick potential! 
 We got SOAKED last night so we just embraced it!
 Zr. Koulen knows how to clean a shower!

Week 16 - 2 new mini missionaries!

Groetjes vanuit Groningen!

Beste familie~
First of all, congrats to my dear wombmate getting called to preach the gospel in a hummus-filled part of the world where the original twelve apostles also preached the gospel! That is so exciting, and missions are so great so I am so glad that my best friend ooit (ever) will get to experience one, too. (Her identical twin sister Madi opened her mission call on Thursday and will serve in the Adriatic South Mission, Oct. 29, speaking Albanian.)
Madi with her mission call letter

So on woensdag, our first mini zendeling (missionary) came, and I seriously love her. She is so great, and has us cracking up all the time. That girl sure can talk- so much for us getting 8 hrs of sleep per night haha- and sometimes gets stressed and "enters panic zone" but that's only because she's so passionate and energetic about everything. She is originally from Suriname, but has lived in the Netherlands (Rotterdam North now) since she was 16- she's 25 now and studies English Literature, Language and Culture at the University of Amsterdam (how cool is that!?) and also works as a full-time nanny. Which explains why she takes such good care of us, i.e. doesn't let us leave the house without sunscreen (it's been around 35C).. "skin cancer? Not on my watch!" and makes sure we use facial moisturizers/ replenishers morning and night. 

Zuster Broekzitter, Zuster Wood's new companion, came last night, and is super mature for her age (she's 16!) and sweet and cool, but might think we're a little crazy.. last night, I thought it'd be funny to pull a little prank on her and when it was time to say nighttime companionship prayer, we closed all the curtains (to add to the effect), kneeled in a circle (like normal), and instead of praying I started chanting and murmuring and dancing, and Zusters Wood and Koulen joined in, and then we ran out of the room, and ran back in, and said "Welkom in Groningen!".. she was still kneeling on the floor, pretty shocked and wondering what she'd gotten herself into, and I caught it on camera.. haha luckily she has a good sense of humor. Then, we blew a fuse trying to plug in an American blow dryer through an adapter for Zr. Koulen's hair which resulted in freezing showers and no power, but she hasn't left yet so she's a trooper!

We've been finding people like crazy and have seen so many miracles this week, and I think the reason that we have four Zusters here is because there are so many people in this city who are searching and ready. I'm excited to improve my Dutch living with two natives- Zr. Koulen speaks perfect Dutch and English, but we only talk to Zr. Broekzitter in Dutch which is awesome. Also, last night my bike broke far away from home, and my Good Samaritan (Surinamer to be exact) Frankie was biking past and said "Zusters, follow me" and with his brother fixed my bike! I totally thought they were some of the 3 Nephites until he said if we had to repay him with something all he wanted was a beer.. instead, I gave him a BvM, telling him he'd like it because it was full of stories of nice people helping others like him. Gotta go because I wanna attach some pictures!
Veel liefs (lots of love),
Zr. Riley

thanks for the pic emails, I love 'em! Vanessa's haircut is super cute, I love the lego temple, and glad you're all supporting the Oranje!!! (: And so excited for Madi!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(a sister missionary coming to Netherlands this fall asked me to ask Eliza about bringing a hair dryer):
Well the only experience I've had with a hair dryer is last night when I plugged one in (for Zr. Koulen, I don't use them) using my adapter that says it's for hair dryers.. and almost died and blew a fuse and we are still out of power/ hot water for that side of the house haha, so maybe just buy one here. And I brought ziploc bags which was really nice to have.

(When I told her that a man she met while tracting with the sister missionaries here in March was baptized this week):
NO WAY!!!! I totally remember that nice Christian man with long hair working on his car outside of the missionaries' apt. who had lots of foster kids.... AHHHHHH wow that just made me really happy. Wow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Week 15 - World Cup / Soccer photos

Missionaries and JoVos at the Grote Markt!

Arjen Robben is from Groningen!

The screen went black right when Argentina got the ball and everyone freaked out.. then the top part of the screen came back on to display that the score was still 0-0..

The 5 photos above were found on Marleen's FB page (yes, my children call me the stalker)

Marleen and I decked out in Oranje!

The Zone!

Zwolle (post-soccer with the zone)

These last 2 World Cup photos are courtesy of Zuster Brown's blog

Week 15 - Groningen / New companion

Being American on Fourth of July! (with peanut butter and hamburgers)

Bike ride home

Zuster Zeef!

Photo from Marleen:  De Drie Gezusters

Getting our house (and overgrown yard) ready for two new Zusters!

Promotion from my Candymaker career- ijsje fiets? (ice bike)

Perks of bringing an artist on Joint-teach  -  nicely drawn diagrams!

Week 15 - Groningen / World Cup finals

Hoi familie!
First of all, you won't believe that we got permission to go to the Grote Markt with a group of Wijkgroningen JoVos (Groningen Ward young adults) for the semi-final match vs. Argentina and didn't get home until 1:30 am.. which is why I'll send pics as proof (: It was so fun at first, but then the game was really intense and it was sad that we lost, but third place still aín't too shabby for this little mustard seed of a country! And Zr. Wood and I were talking about how we felt weird the following morning because mingling for a few hours is pretty unsatisfying compared to deep and productive conversations that we are used to, but we decided that it was good to feel that way -even when she goes home in a few weeks- because that means we really became missionaries.

Also, apparently it's not too big of an invasion of privacy if I use investigators' first names which is a relief because first letters is kind of vervelend (annoying), and doesn't give you a feel for the culture.

Jenny, the mother of 3 from Curacao, is making progress and we love going over and love her family. She's narrowed her search down to the Mormon church and the Catholic church because they both have a direct line of tracing the priesthood, and she asked tons of questions about the Pearl of Great Price/ JST. Our hardest thing with her is helping her to focus on asking the questions that really matter first (was Joseph Smith really a prophet?), and then speculating over deeper doctrine (I thought the Garden of Eden was in Ethiopia?). Her daughter, Kimberly, is a miracle and inspires me with her faith. She wants to be baptized on 9 August, and totally agreed to live the Law of Chastity (when her boyfriend who she's had a baby with was sitting in the corner- first time he was quiet and didn't interrupt us- she thinks maybe that will motivate him to ask her to get married sooner. We're personally rooting for her meeting a nice JoVo in the ward, but unfortunately can't really say anything..) and is so great.

Marleen is pretty nervous with her baptism 2 weeks away, but excited at the same time. She loves the Kinder Verhalen uit het Boek van Mormon (children’s Book of Mormon Reader) and bore a beautiful testimony at church last week. I love that girl, she is hilarious- never a dull moment!

We got dropped over text by our gift-giving Indonesian onderzoeker Geoffrey- hopefully we don't run out of soap now!- but we left as really good friends and I'll always have a special place in my heart for him!

We found a miracle family from Brazil during bell-ups last week -  they were laughing over the intercom thingy and I thought they were making fun of me but then the door opened and a young latino mom in a towel invited us in, grabbed her two kids, changed, and sat there wanting to know everything. She loves God and the Bible, and has seen our church in Brazil. We're going there tonight with Portuguese BvMs with a Cape Verde- native onderzoeker (investigator) to help translate! It was a miracle that we could communicate with them that first meeting -  Zr. Wood spoke in Spanish, they spoke in Portuguese- she said that was the first time she understood Portuguese.

We get one mini-missionary Wednesday, and one Sunday. I get to go to Brussels on Thursday for legalities! I'll eat some dark Belgian chocolate for you (:   I gave a talk yesterday about faith- how faith is the power that changes the world, and people everywhere, religious or not, turn ambitions and dreams into reality through work and action (that is faith)- we need to remember to turn this faith towards Jesus Christ, because that begins the sure path to eternal life. (On the other side of the globe, in Idaho, Eliza’s twin sister gave a sacrament meeting talk about faith on the exact same day… must be one of those cool “twin coincidences”!)

I'm excited for die Mannschaft winning their fourth world title, but would like to avoid WW3 so can't show any Deutschland pride here!
Love you all!

Zr. Riley

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 14 - Groningen


We had a super fun zone P-day playing soccer in Zwolle, but got home super late after buying some super vet Nederland jerseys downtown, which is why this is super short, which is a shame because this week was full of crazy adventures/ hilarious conversations/ exhausting days/ miracles. We were able to find 5 new investigators, hand out 8 BvMs (plus three from our first weekend together) and teach 14 lessons amidst other appointments which was so awesome- I think we're finding so many potentials because we need to build up our teaching pool- we are not getting just one, but two mini missionaries for the second half of the transfer (next week)- we'll be the first Sisters 4-pan! Spannend (: 

There were a few investigators who didn't believe my following church rules/ coming on a mission/etc. were voluntary, which I at first found a little offensive because I like to think of myself as a pretty independent person, but one such conversation led to a great conversation about freedom to choose, obedience, freedom and NOT restriction from seemingly "restricting" commandments. 

I love working with Zuster Wood, and especially admire her bold yet personable contacting techniques.

Love you all!  
Zuster Riley 

From a missionary in Haarlem (I'm sure Eliza is excited about this, if her zone is included):
We got a text from our Zone Leaders saying that we are now ''allowed and encouraged to watch all Nederland World Cup games, even the ones at 10 PM. 
Disclaimer: No going anywhere where there is alcohol.  
Next one is against Argentina, Wednesday at 10 PM.''  Hup Holland Hup!

Eliza has been so good about emailing photos home each week (between 8-23 a week, so far).  So I was sad that we didn't get any photos this week along with her short email (above). But then a few hours later, what arrives but a PACKAGE from Groningen! Eliza wanted us to show proper World Cup spirit and to enjoy the Dutch treats. She even sent a Kinder Egg for Josh (I guess she forgot that they're illegal in the USA because the toys inside are choking hazards. But thankfully, Josh is still alive and breathing).  Rachel and I had fun opening the package and tasting the treats, and I laughed because she now DOES have photos for the week!

 This is delicious: it has crushed cookie crumbs in it!



 World Cup Fever

 Eliza also visits this man, Tex
 Scenes from Groningen