Elders Thomas and Lovin came to work with us and helped us find people in the cold.
Turnhout Grote Markt ft. de Elders te Geel.
Goofing around haha!
Dag Familie Riley,
so around 7.45u on Tuesday morning I was sitting on the bus on the weekly 2.5 hour pilgrimage to District Meeting in Leuven and the usual rush of cute little well-dressed Flemish kids piled on, many of whom I recognize by now and try to smile at and I'm sure they recognize me... anyways, 3 girls were snap-chatting and chit-chatting all around me and I was reading until I kept feeling like I should talk to them... the thought "open your mouth" kept coming to mind and I felt like I should talk to them, not only to set a good example for Zuster Castro of confidently and naturally talking to everyone, but because I knew they were occasionally curiously eyeing and whispering about my nametag, but as much as I hate to admit it, I felt SCARED. European pre-teen schoolkids can be intimidating. I finally ended up asking the girl next to me if they use instagram or vine here as well (yes and no, respectively), explaining that I'm not from here, and asked how old they were, and they're 13- I told them I had I li'l broertje their age all the way in Florida, U.S.A., and then they had to get off, waving an English "bye" as they got off- no first lesson or even potential investigators, but also nothing scary/ awkward either. I just overthought it too much (flashback to cliff jumping in TX.. I knew I'd be glad I'd done it once it was over, but it was just hard to initiate it!) but more hesitation= less inspiration so I am going to work on being better at courageously acting on promptings.
Towards the end of that bus ride, right as we were pulling into Leuven station, a friendly young woman stepped on the bus down the aisle and after complimenting her faded red leather boots we got to talking- she turned out to be genuinely curious and admiring of what we do (and has the connections with KU Leuven which is cool- she's a Law research assistant) and she was really cool and just sent me a neat e-mail, I hope we keep in touch and that she checks out the website.
President and Zuster Robinson came and worked with us on Thursday which was neat- we ended up getting let in by 3 older, friendly, Catholic former investigators, and had a cool (lovingly bold) first lesson focusing on the Restoration through Joseph Smith. We also went to Isaac's and President said he personally feels that the reason Isaac is suddenly so intrigued with religion is because his wife (passed away almost 20 years ago) has accepted the gospel in the spirit world.
On Friday, we stepped inside Sint Pieterskerk and ended up getting a thorough run-down of the church's history (dating back to 1200!) and the legends of St. Hubert and St. Barbara with stained-glass illustrations... and ended up having a lesson sitting on the pew there, explaining and sharing scriptures from the Book of Mormon and the message of the apostasy thus necessity of the Restoration. Sitting there in the giant, beautifully eerie Belgian church speaking to Flemish Jan, the active Catholic maintenance man about our views on how babies are pure and innocent and don't need to be baptized was an experience I won't soon forget.. I think every missionary has a few of those surreal moments of realization where you feel for a second as if you're watching yourself in this unique and cool situation from the outside, and it just hits you that not only is this sitting in a beautiful old church in Belgium speaking vlaams real- but the contents of the message you're sharing is real, too- that there is a prophet on the earth today acting under God's authority who clears up spiritual fog and that's why ie a big tweede vaticaans concilie in the 60s isn't needed. Also, I got to go back in the VIP Bishop's coffee room to use the WC so thanks Jan. (:
Zuster Castro and I are having fun here in Turnhout! She's getting pretty pro at biking with no hands therefore I am a successful trainer (;, and when I tell a cheesy joke and laugh really hard at my own joke, that in turn makes her crack up haha. We had a 4th lesson with M (the former investigator we've started teaching again, previously referred to as "Crazy M" just for reference- in a good way of course!) and when we found out that she does believe in the BoM and Joseph Smith, we asked her why she isn't a member yet, and she said good point, so hopefully we'll be helping her and L who is finally moved out from living with her (abusive) bf towards the waters of baptism, which is so exciting.
Happy Valentine's Day! Love you all!
Zuster Gosling (in honor of Valentine's Day bc #ryangosling haha just kidding)
With G - who I hadn't seen for weeks, and she left for Africa for a month last week- of course we had to strike a pose with her haha. Yes, she's great and all, but wow she is relentless when it comes to trying to poison/ intoxicate/ whatever you wanna call it/ the Zuster zendelingen (tried to feed us chocolate with "accidental" alcohol.. again).
Broeder and Zuster Nwafor invited us over for dinner on Saturday night and casually mentioned, "yeah, it'll be a party, woo!"... and they meant it! The are so sweet and loving and made us feel so happy and loved after cold and long day, it was perfect!
Uplifting e-mail from a cool lady I talked to on the bus!
Dear Sister Riley
Dear Mary, if I can call you by your first name
My name is A____. We met this morning - by 'coincidence' (of as part of Gods Devine plan?? - let's keep that open) - in the bus and at the station this morning.
I will write you in English, for I don't know if you can read Dutch - although I don't want to underestimate you, taking into account your amazing level of (spoken) Dutch, after only 9 months in Belgium!! Excuse me, in return, for the mistakes I make when writing you in English.
To be honest, I had noticed you before stepping out of the bus, because you had reached for my bag that had fallen. Since that moment, you - in a way - had grabbed my attention: your kind presence and big lovely eyes made me smile, and I found you looked very good in pink!
Anyway, glad and thankful to have met each other. Wish you all the best in realising the mission that brought you to Belgium. It is astonishing to see how two young girls, like you and Sister Castro (if I remember her name correctly), share the enthusiasm, and have found the courage to spread the word of God/Jesus, in a far (and cold) country, and this in times when a lot of people are disconnected from 'the message', locked in their busy life or prejudiced by the fear of fundamentalism. Despite that, I wish you all the best and hope you will persist in your vocation. What you do is admirable, really!
And, although our view points can and may differ on certain details - and I think that is not a bad thing either, I think we both believe in the inner good of people, the force of connection/empathy and the benefit of thinking 'pink' and positive.
I will take a look at the website you suggested.
Besides, I will give you my professional contact details (of the University), in case you have questions with repsect to studying law in Leuven;
Have a wonderful day - talking to you already made mine!