Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 26-Turnhout

Hoi Familie!
Wow, another great week here, I am loving Zuster Aston and Turnhout. The missionary work here is so great..   we easily teach 20 lessons a week and have at least 9 investigators progressing towards baptism.. and I say this not to brag of myself (Alma 29:9) but in awe of the strong members and sisters who built this area up.

I shared my testimony/ introduced myself to the branch yesterday, and told them that I'd really gained a testimony of Alma 26:37.. so true, the Lord is preparing people for me to find here as I type. Unfortunately, Larissa, a sweet Russian mother who was scheduled for baptism on 11 October, is going to have to postpone the date because of divorce technicalities, but she is still great and strong.

Something funny is when we were reading with Roger (he speaks both but reads in French, we read in Nederlands) in 1 Nephi 4 and 5 and I was summarizing Nephi dressing up as Laban, so when "Laban" walked outside and made quotation marks with my fingers, Roger said he needed to ask me something at the end of the lesson, and wanted to know if that sign meant I was associated with the illuminati because they do that because the two fingers are like devil horns and to watch out because I might confuse people. But other than that, he loved the story, and was getting soooo into it and retelling it and it was so neat and also hilarious! He is so great, but still does not feel like he is getting an answer, but is excited for conference because he has questions about prophets.

It's cooling off beautifully, as in crisp and invigorating and still sunny.. but apparently will be getting pretty cold this winter. I got to go back to Gent and work with the wonderful Zuster Johnson on exchanges, and it was fun to see Romain and Kamil and Familie Symynck again. 

Yes, Elder Ballard and I did shake hands! He shook every missionary's hand, but still.. actually, his real new pal is Broeder Geens, the former ward mission leader in Gent, who started a facebook campaign with giving out Finding Faith in Christ DVDs which led to lots of referrals and even a few baptisms, and Elder Ballard kept saying "I wish I could shake his hand, I would love to meet him, that story of vision in a member is going with me everywhere I go..." and someone called him and said to get up here, and Br. Geens got to talk to him for 5 mins one-on-one and Elder Ballard said to email him all of his missionary ideas on his personal email. Gent represent (: .  

Love you all! Know that I am doing great here.. loving the work, and the people. I'm sad that Zuster Aston leaves me (to go HOME) in a month. 
Thanks for writing every week!
Zuster Riley(:
P.S. Mom, the NT scripture mastery cards in Dutch that you sent in the MTC are so useful, thanks. Rachel, you will not regret all your hard work with scripture masteries.. keep it up! 
Attached are some Brugge pics with Zuster Aston!  
 From Eliza’s companion’s blog: 

(last week) Hoi hoi hoi. This week was super good! I have a new companion named Sister Riley. She's a year younger then me & is from Florida. She's a vegan. Which is actually pretty cool. She has been helping me eat healthier... But I will never be completely converted. I love milk, cheese & meat too much. She's really easy to work with & we get along great. We've seen a lot of miracles this week. We currently have two baptismal dates. We are hopefully going to set more this next week. One of our investigators was a Muslim growing up, but he said that he prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true & he received his answer that it is! We asked him if he knew that Christ is the Son of God & he said, "The Book of Mormon says he is... So yes I believe that He is." The spirit was so strong. I'm grateful for the people we are teaching. I love all of our investigators. I did have an awkward experience though. One Sister Riley's second day, we went to an appointment with one of our investigators. There was an envelope taped to the door that was labeled, "zusters mormonen". We opened it & it said that she didn't want to meet with us anymore. As we were reading it, a man opened her front door & said, "I'm so sorry! Wait here, I will get her." Then all of a sudden... all her neighbors came outside to watch... I stood there probably looking so confused as she walked to the door. She then told us that she didn't want to meet anymore. I tried asking why & what happened, but then all the people started jumping in & told us to leave. Talk about awkward. Poor lady. She needs the Gospel in her life. Besides that, this week was really good! Sis Riley & I are going to see miracles this transfer. I can feel it.

(today) It’s definitely been a transfer of miracles so far. You wouldn't even believe it. All of our investigators are doing pretty good. They are making a lot more progress than they were last transfer. Zuster Riley & I made a goal to work hard but have fun my last transfer. Last Monday we went to Brugge Belgium. It's very beautiful. We even found a new investigator while on the bus to Antwerpen to catch a train to Brugge. We taught him the restoration & extended the baptismal invitation. He said yes. He even started reading the Book of Mormon after we got off the bus. It was awesome. Everything is going good here.  

Zuster Anjewierden's mom (center) went to pick up her daughter when her mission ended last week. She went to church in Turnhout and took this photo with Eliza and her comp. (Thank you!! Made my day to find this pic!)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 25 - Turnhout, Belgium

 Zuster A (: 
Feeling the love? My skirt and bag were being gnawed at and chewed while  this was taken
 Zuster Aston! We went to a geitenboerderij with the ward. Haha it was so funny. 
A Belgian goat eating (or dying?)

Hoi Familie, 
I love Turnhout, this city is Belgian's best kept secret, and lives up to Zuster Clement's reputation of it as 'the promised land'. The work here is so good (we teach so many lessons), and I love being companions with the sweet and easygoing Zuster Aston. I feel such a relief right now being in a new place and with a new companion.. feeling so positive and lighthearted and happy right now and all the time has made me realize, looking back, how hard Gent was..  All in all it was a great transfer with memories I will treasure and we had a good relationship, but it did lead to lots of self reflection and evaluation and desires for personal growth. I am so glad I have the knowledge and hope of the atonement which allows me to improve and always become more meek and selfless and trustworthy and charitable. I also learned that an easy going hard worker is not an oxymoron.

A really neat miracle.. actually, continuation of a miracle.. is the fact that Yiman, the young Hong Kong native Antwerpen fine arts student who I met on the train and ended up teaching the first lesson which sparked her curiosity and led to her ordering a copy of the Book of Mormon online, lives in Turnhout! I am so excited to stop by and talk to her again.

We also met a young Belgian (adopted from Africa) sociologist who had studied our religion when he lived among Mormons for three years in Oklahoma, and through teaching the first lesson, we were able to clear up a lot of misconceptions (racist, extremist cult) and invite the spirit and arrange to meet again.

I have fallen in love with the people here already: Mia, our sweet 75 yr old neighbor who we share scriptures with and try to teach and she gives us love and marriage advice; Tommy, a young Belgian who is a chatterbox and works with computers and is plowing through the Book of Mormon; Abdel who is Antwerpen born but of Morroccan descent and is such a smart cookie (repeats the lessons back to us better than we taught them); sweet Mohammed who is a 15 yr old refugee from Mali and loves church and the Book of Mormon and who has come to believe and understand that Jesus Christ is his savior; Greet (pronounced by clearing your throat and saying the word "great" haha), a middle-aged Flemish mother who selflessly cares for her handicapped grown son and who is open to there being a God with a plan for us; Daisy, a cute young Belgian mom who is so busy but sweet and lets us teach her quick lessons on the doorstep and says to always come back..and so many more.. and the members are so great, too.. lots of strong, young families.

At the Ballard conference last week, I felt a message of approval of the work of full-time missionaries being conveyed, and he said to tell our mothers and fathers how much he appreciates you supporting us being out here. Amen to that- thank you. 

Something that I've been giving constant thought on my mission, but especially now based on the pool of investigators we are teaching, is how do I help my investigators to recognize the spirit when they are reading, praying, and coming to church yet don't feel that they have received an answer?

That is so fun to see Isaac back! A happy reunion I am sure. Something that is really really really weird is how apparantly I'm almost already at my 6 months mark/ 1 year left.... 
Fijne week!
Zuster Riley (: 
p.s. I met Sister Anjewierden yesterday who said she has talked to you! Love you.

Week 25 - Last pictures from Gent

The district!

 With Sherley and Sammeke! She teaches yoga and is the best member missionary. Don't worry Isabella, you're not being replaced with this pose! 

 With Familie B! 

 75 reasons why I love Europe

 and being holy

cute station 

My favorite time of the day to bike through downtown Europe, I think.. at dusk with the sunset and the warm-glowy shops and cafes... 

Elder friends (from Finland and Virginia)

Oostende! Beautiful coastal city of Belgium

Post ultimate frisbee, we even got to dip our feet in the ocean

 Last P day with the district! 
Zuster Stevens (and Elder Kemp)! 

Beach- look familiar?  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014