Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Week 47 - Turnhout

This sweet lady from Paraguay threw a party for Elder C, after talking to the Elders for a mere 25 mins! She has a really sweet 17 yr old daughter, 

 The Elders gave a memorable spiritual thought reminding us to put our trust in Christ and not in man (that's raw egg on Elder C)- shout-out to the VanGijsel kindjes photobombing (:

 Sneak preview into the behind the scenes of #Zusterlyfe... love these Zusters! 

 A is a certified cook and made us dinner! His 17 yr old brother was there, as well as his mom and her two best friends (they call themselves "the three witches").. one a ginger, one with dark hair, and she's a brunette- flashforward to Torri and Isabella and me in 35 years haha? Anyways, they were really fun to talk to- met at a ballet academy 45 years ago when they were 12 and have all been professional ballerinas throughout Europe and are still all best friends.. we had great conversations about free-range pork and iPad airs, but they weren't too interested in the BoM. Really gezellig though. 

I tried foo-foo for the first time! B made it for us.. you may think that's a bathroom behind us, but it's also the kitchen (a makeshift portable stove on top of beer crates).. it's boiled cornmeal with a type of sauce.. and in our case, seasoned with lots of tobacco fumes ha he is a nice guy but it was sad talking to him and hearing how in denial he is about wanting/ being able to change his bad habits; lots of rationalizing and self-justification. 

Dear Fam, 
Yep, transfer calls are this Sunday, crazy! We're emailing today because we're about to go to Flanders Field (we got permission to switch P-days). I'm excited. This week we were inside a lot because Z. Castro wasn't feeling well, but here's part of an email I sent to A (cool young girl studying and researching law, met on the bus) (who we will hopefully be able to meet up with later this week- before one of us possibly leaves)-

   "Two things stood out to me in your writing- first of all, I find it particularly noteworthy that you mentioned the purpose of life and the inner good of people. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ has answered many questions I've had regarding these concepts and through studying the scriptures/ words of prophets and attending church and most importantly through prayer, I've come to know for myself that God has a plan for each one of His children- we all come to earth to gain a body and build eternal family relationships, to be tested to choose good over evil, to learn and grow, and through following the Savior Jesus Christ become free from guilt and pain and shame and become worthy to return to our loving Father in heaven. I believe that we are all spirit sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father and we all chose to come to earth and accept this plan and all have a glorious divine potential for good and the light of Christ- or as you called it, inner good- within each of us. (Because Heavenly Father respects our agency- our freedom to choose- unfortunately, some people choose sin and temptation, contrary to God's plan.) 
   “I also liked how you mentioned the power of gratitude- I also believe that being grateful in all circumstances is directly related to true happiness, understanding, and hope. Being grateful is not just something we do after our problems are solved, but it is acknowledging that we do not always understand the trials of life but one day we will. 
   “Hm, my story? In short, I've moved every 2-3 years in true nomadic Air Force family style (my dad is a physician in the U.S. Air Force), often living in places as remote as Guam or Germany (okay, Europe isn't so exotic to you), where there were not many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My loving, faithful parents raised us 5 children in the gospel, teaching us how to communicate with Heavenly Father through prayer, prioritizing weekly church attendance and nightly family scripture reading, and instilling in us good values such as caring for our bodies by living a healthy lifestyle and abstaining from alcohol/ drugs/ sexual relations before marriage, and encouraging us to be honest and hard-working. In my teenage years, I didn't always agree with my parents (as a typical rebellious teenager who thought she knew better than her parents) and seriously questioned a lot of what I'd been taught, and started to wonder if my school friends were right- were my parents and church leaders ridiculously strict, old-fashioned, and even brainwashed? Considering myself an independent individual (I have an identical twin sister and we grew up fighting for "twin civil rights" and independence (: ), I decided I wanted to find out for myself if this church really was the Church of Jesus Christ restored on the earth with the fullness of truth and priesthood authority, and if Joseph Smith really was a prophet of God, and if the Book of Mormon really is the word of God written by true prophets who lived hundreds of years ago in the ancient Americas. After reading in the Book of Mormon one night, I poured out my soul to God desiring to know these things, ready to live my life in accordance to my answer. I felt a powerful, warm, feeling of confirmation and the reassuring thought that I already knew deep down that yes, this book is from God and this Church will bring me lasting happiness and yes, this gospel contains true doctrines.
   “As for coming on a mission, in Fall 2013 I was at college looking into internships/ study abroad programs, thinking about what I wanted to do with my life, and the more I thought about it, I decided that I wanted to take the opportunity to share this joyful gospel with others, and decided to put school/ hobbies/ frequent communication with friends and family on pause for 1.5 yrs to come on a mission. And now I'm here, 11 months in, and it's been an amazing experience. 
   “So, bad news- there's a good chance that I may be leaving Turnhout for a new city in two weeks... but the good news is that there are plenty of opportunities for us to still meet. Church is every Sunday from..." 

anyways, writing that to her was yet another confirmation of how blessed I am to have grown up in the family I have. (: 
   I'll send some pics in a sec- mostly of food appointments ha.  Love you all! Happy Birthday Mom! Liefs, 
Zuster Riley (: 
We taught the youth Sunday School lesson about using music to understand gospel principles ie PoS (Plan of Salvation), and made these for them.. and played a lot of games probably more age appropriate for primary. (: 

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