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.

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