Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Week 52 - Zoetermeer

Zuster Riley and her comp

Went to Primark (a cheap but pretty cute, Forever21-esque store here in NL) for the first time with the Lelystad sisters. / Zuster Cowles was pretty excited. (:

 Guess who I saw at the Paasmuziekconcert (btw, there is an incredible couple- Br. and Zr. Gruppman- who are members in Rotterdam and are world-renowned violinists and they performed. Br. Gruppman is the Rotterdams Philharmonisch concermeester.)? My HOMES, Tahira aka mini-zendeling companion Zr. Koulen!!  (:

The zone leaders came to an appointment with us and it happened to be Elder Elkin's birthday- so we had the friendly servers sing to him at this little Brasserie where we went for lunch and all the cute elderly Brunch-ers joined in. / A true Irishwoman doesn't limit herself to green breakfast only on 17 March right?

Monday: Hey, just so you know, we'll be doing most of our e-mailing tomorrow morning because we didn't get on until really late. But I'll send some pics right now. (: Today was good and pretty relaxing-  I'm just trying to make sure my sisters feel loved and keep the peace and help them to stay confident and strong and positive. I talked to a really cool member today for hours, who said a lot of inspired things that I needed to hear and I am so grateful that Heavenly Father puts people in our paths at the perfect time.  The Romigs (sr. couple who is related to the sr. couple in Groningen) put a video of us singing "Let it Glow" on Facebook apparently hahaha. Talk to you more tomorrow!  
Z. Riley
P.S. Mary Poppins looks amazing, can't wait to watch it with you someday!

Tuesday: Better late than never!
Hey, happy April (almost)!
Great week last week- On Tuesday, our day was packed with appt after appt (felt like my first transfer in Turnhout again)- we swung by Jimmy and Jetty, who are a very sweet Surinaams couple who have been meeting with the Zusters for years, but progress really slowly and don't quite see the importance of "rushing into commitments".. we also met with Angela, who met with us while her good friend/ neighbor Priscilla un-dreadlocked her hair. Priscilla was cool and we got to know her a little, but when she was invited to sit in on the lesson with us she politely declined.. but as we got to teaching the Plan of Salvation and asking questions to Angela, Priscilla was really interested and kept answering and sharing her beliefs (she's Catholic) and it was really neat, because right before we had to leave she opened up to us and shared a really hard experience and asked us if we would pray, and wanted a Heilsplan pamphlet. Lucie had some really good questions about the justice and happiness of the plan of salvation with regards to part-member/ part-active family, and the next day after yoga I asked Zr. VanderPut to shed some experienced light on those sincere questions, and she was really able to help Lucie, and we had such a great, uplifting conversation about trust and faith in mortality.

Speaking of Lucie and Rosanne, we're going there tonight with Zr. Tettero and her YW daughter, and they are doing so well- still planning on baptism at the end of April. Sister Roberts, a member from Kentucky in the Wassenaar ward has a non-member friend from FL who's been to tons of RS activities in the states and came to and loved a recent one here, and she suggested we call and see if we could get to know her/ meet up, and when I did, she was so friendly and said "you know what, do you girls like Mexican food? Why don't you come over for dinner Tuesday night?".. we were so excited- apparently she has been through the lessons before and doesn't want to be preached at, but the fact that she is so friendly and positive towards having us over/ coming to church events is neat- helaas she got really sick and we'll have to reschedule.

Probably the highlight of our week was Friday night, walking around the centrum with some members to hand out paasconcert flyers.. no one was too interested, until we stopped these two girls who looked about our age, and ended up talking to them for at least 45 minutes! They were so. cool. They're cousins, originally from Iran, but Sara grew up in Sweden and Arman in the UK. I was talking to Sara about universal commonalities and moral absolutes and it just felt so natural to share a verse from 2 Nephi 2 and she's so cool and studying Industrial Ecology here and Arman is fascinated with religion and they are very open and non-judgemental and want to meet up and talk more. They actually said some really inspired things that helped us, and anyone watching us would've thought we'd known each other for years, the way we group-hugged and laughed and squealed when we ran into them later that night as we were leaving (they wanted to go get a drink with us and talk more, but it was already our bedtime ha).. but we will definitely talk with them more. They were a miracle!

Also, we're teaching L (less-active L's 12 yr old daughter), and L wants to hang out with us on a P-day in a few weeks.. we went to their house and she was crying during our spiritual message, saying she'd missed feeling the spirit, and even though she's scared of others' reactions at her suddenly coming back to church after so long, she feels like it's time. They are both so great. Her boyfriend is a very friendly and polite civil engineer who is completely satisfied with labeling himself as Catholic and not thinking about religious things otherwise.. but she (and we) always try to include him in on our chats. We went clear out to Hillegom - a beautiful dorpje (cutest little brick houses ever) surrounded by tulip fields to look up a less-active.. it'd been storming and we were soaked, but it was so worth it- she let us in and still has an incredible testimony and I'm excited to meet with her more and work some things out.
Love you guys! Play some pranks for me tomorrow! Maybe Motra Madi and I can switch missions or something for April Fool's, that'd be funny, right? (;
Zuster Riley  

Video of Eliza singing "Let it Glow":

 We cleaned for inspections so I took the opportunity to document what our place in Zoetermeer looks like!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Week 51 - Zoetermeer

 St. Patrick's district meeting!
We cooked- the beans weren't green but the rice was (:

 Pancakes by Zuster Faa on St. Patrick's Day
All the zusters, at Zusters Conference 
(Eliza is in the back, to the right of the raised arm)
Reunited! Dang I didn't get a pic with my other "daughter" Z. Castro- we were too busy talking a catching up. But she made it in the back of some of these phew
With Zuster Robinson

Lieve Familie Riley, Alles goed? Hopelijk wel. It's been a great, busy, miracle-filled week here in the land of the tulips in the season of the tulips. On Monday we went to gezinsavond at Familie Kaaijk's house- Rens was recently baptized and his wife and daughter were recently reactivated and they are so strong and hilarious and sweet. Two stories I never tire of hearing are conversion stories, and how couples met. 

On Tuesday I went to Den Haag on exchanges, and while we were looking people up, Zuster Bradley felt like Ethlyn (a recent convert beloved by any Zuster who's served in Den Haag- I've heard so many great things about her from past companions and had met her briefly)- anyways, she is so sweet and easy to talk to and really needed and appreciated the uplifting visit.. we also helped tidy her house- and she even bought me a spice grinder thingy with lots of spices because we bonded over liking seasonings and she gave it to me as a surprise at Zusters Conf.!, so sweet and I'm so glad Z. Bradley followed the prompting to visit her. 

Speaking of Zusters Conferentie, it was so great- definitely a theme of being courageous and caring vs. competitive and critical. I spoke for a few minutes to the sisters about true conversion (all the STLs were to pray about a topic) and I read Alma 17:2 adjusted to me- "Therefore, Sister Riley did rejoice exceedingly to see her sisters Marquie Meier, Andrea Wood, Tahira Koulen, Jenny Stevens, Megan Aston, Karly Hansen, Ashley Castro and Jessica Faassavalu, and what added more to her joy, they were still her sisters in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were women of a sound understanding; and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God." I talked about how I wanted to see all of them beautiful and good ladies 20-30 years from now and have this joyous reunion (and I realize that in order to take part in that I have to be searching diligently and waxing strong in the knowledge of the truth myself, which is why I'm deciding now to always stay worthy of a temple recommend. I gave them all a few minutes to write a letter to their future selves (10 yrs from now) and ah it was just so great seeing past companions and everyone and being uplifted and encouraged. Speaking of following through, remember that ''stopping at 3rd base adds no more to the score than striking out''. Bam. Ha. 

So on Thursday, Zuster Doxey (serving in Lelystad) and I were getting off of the train at Den Haag Centraal and a man stopped us and told us that he wanted to thank us- just from the way we were interacting with each other and having such a friendly conversation, he felt really good and it inspired him to send his wife a happy and encouraging email. He noticed our tags and said that he'd been wanting to get closer to God this past year, and gave us his business card (he works with Dutch agricultural protection) so we can meet again. And later that day we biked over an hour somewhere in Pijnacker to look up a less-active and her former investigator 13-yr old daughter who the Sisters have been trying to get in contact with for a few months now, and she let us in and was so friendly and cool and we're going over there Wednesday night for a dinner appt. and to teach her daughter and she wants to come back to church (and yoga).. almost a repeat of what's happening with Zuster Kluft! So cool. 

Also, we had a Gaastendienst in wijkzoetermeer yesterday and Z. Rol, a sweet member, brought a friend and she loved it and read the inleiding of the Book of Mormon during sacrament meeting and wants a book and we're all going to meet to teach her more soon. And now that we are officially assigned to the English-speaking wijkwassenaar (who meet in this building as well), we have a lot of less-active sisters to work with there- and even two investigator referrals from friends. Wow, good things are going on here! And we are pretty excited for the zone training we've been planning for Wednesday which will include singing "Let it Glow" (the Spirit) and a silent lesson.
I love you all!
Zuster Riley (:

Sweet Zuster Lemmich
We do this all the time here haha! Bikes and escalators go together like peas and carrots.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Week 50 - Zoetermeer


 With Z. Faa 

 We went in the church where the royal Dutch "Huis van Oranje" is buried

 This is our view every time we bike to the church! Beautiful. 

We made hats with Bisschop N's family for gezinsavond.  

Hey Familie O'Riley! 
So on Tuesday, we had an appt. with L  (the moeder) and R  (she's 9), who come from a part-member Dutch family (their 12-yr old boy recently got baptized, and Br. D  is now active again) and they are so good. They have been taught and come to everything, and L  had good questions about certain commonly used gospel vernacular that she hears thrown around all the time but doesn't have a clear definition in her head of, so we made her a list and it was actually a really nice, clear review for me to compile that list. Makes ya think about how simple yet amazing the fundamentals of the gospel are- and made me think about the difference between knowing and believing the doctrine. Using a baptismal calendar, we decided with them that we will go through all the lessons again over the course of 6 weeks to ensure that they feel ready to be baptized at the end of 6 weeks.
I met A, who is so sweet and btw has the coolest bright pink woolen dreadlocks and who came to the muziekavond 15 mins late so sat in her car listening (didn't want to disrupt it) but she loved it so much that she wants to go to the performance in Rotterdam in a few weeks- and wants to bring friends! She is also thinking about baptism. We've been struggling getting investigators to church, but hopefully these activities they've been attending (musical fireside, yoga, English lessons, RS activities, etc.) will help them feel more comfortable in the church building with the members for when they do come. Sounds like there are some English-speaking inactive families/ visitors who we will be getting to work with from wijkwassenaar.

Yesterday at church, two sweet elderly Swiss women were on a European temple vacation and I got to translate for them (Dutch-German.. I sat next to them to introduce myself, and when we started to speak auf deutsch, they were excited and had me sit in the middle to translate)..ha it was definitely more like simply paraphrasing the talks/ lesson, but it was still relieving that not all my deutsch is lost, and they were so strong- I loved their desire to strengthen their faith even more day by day. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Don't forget to leave your shoes out for the leprechauns tonight.. I'm introducing Z. Faa to that tradition. 
Zuster O'Riley 

 View from the Delft tower 

Z. Voss came to work with us on woensdag and it was so sunny and we were all just walking around singing and harmonzing and made some friends that way, it was fun. 

Companion/ Elders/ Dave (a cool member who was a great tour guide around Delft)

 Zoetermeer is beautiful!
Boat traffic! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Week 49 - Transfer 8 - Zoetermeer

Groetjes vanuit Zoetermeer!
With Zuster Faasavalu- she's so great and I love her so much already!
Pics of the transfer to Netherlands, from Elder Muller

Familie Riley! Greetings from Holland. I love Zoetermeer so much already! My collega, Zuster Faasavalu (she grew up in Bountiful but her Dad is Samoan thus the cool name- a member called her "Zuster Honalulu" yesterday but they mostly just call her "Zuster Faa") has been out as long as Z. Castro- this is her 3rd transfer- and she is so sweet and hard-working and talented (esp. with music and creative writing). Wijkzoetermeer is amazing.. and we are actually assigned the the Englsih-speaking Wassenaar Ward (lots of American businessmen and their families) as well so we go to 5+ hours of church on Sunday (they overlap)- am I spiritual yet? (; 

Wow, so saying good-bye to the members and investigators in Turnhout was hard, but I told a few people that I'd probably be able to come to L's baptism that Saturday and see them then.. which didn't end up working because we had an incredible musical fireside put on by 4 Elders who are travelling the mission doing these performances in the various stakes to increase referrals.. wow, it was neat, and we had a really good turn out! In fact, here's a miracle- so my second night here, we swung by Zr. K, an inactive lady who the Zusters here had been trying to get in with for quite some time now, and as soon as I mentioned that I'm from Florida, she opened up and invited us in and said "ah MIAMI, we went on vacation there every year.." (and I didn't mention the fact that Miami is 12 hrs south of my house and I'd never been there- we just kinda played up the FL card) and we ended up having a really cool conversation explaining what and why we are on missions and shared a scripture with her from D&C and her 22-yr old daughter C (we hit it off really well and are going to hang out on a P-day soon) asked really good questions about Joseph Smith/ difference between books of scripture/ what sets us apart from other Christian faiths and now C wants to be taught the lessons! And Zr. K came to the musical fireside and even brought two of our investigators who she is apparently somehow related to. It was really neat, and after the production Zr. K and I were able to have a really uplifting conversation about the spirit we felt tonight and the first time she felt the spirit and why she was baptized.

I met Zr. U as well, who is from South Africa and is so lovely and easy to talk to (and has the greatest sayings ie "it's just not time for me to fall off my perch yet" or "hoppin' mad) and came to church for the first time in 6 years last week and she is great- haha I introduced myself and she said "I know, I've seen you on television" so I guess that clip made it up here as well. We go to yoga at 9am every Thursday (put on by a young mom who serves as a ward missionary- quite a few investigators and members come) which I loved.

It's so fun being in the same ward as the VanderPuts as well. (: On Sunday I sat down next to Zr. Dezaire, a cute elderly lady who I came to find out was baptized along with her husband years ago by Elder Robinson (now mission president Robinson).. she's served a full-time mission to Bulgaria since then, and one of her 4 children is a Dad in our ward who gave a talk.. wow, so neat to see the fruits of missionary work. I also met Zr. VanderScheer, who is so classy and wonderful and shared some really neat experiences with us as well confirming the significance of planting a single seed. 

On Saturday, we met Vera op straat, who had been to the temple open house 10 years ago and has seen our new church building and wants a tour of it next week. We also talked with F, a friendly older lady walking her dog who ended up talking to us for over an hour about how busy she is (so there's no use in swapping contact info) but Z. Faa suggested we sing her a song after she told us how she sings in two choirs, and she loved it. 

Our Bishop met with us yesterday (the Elders are both new to the area as well) and reminded us that our primary goal is to bring joy, and that sometimes like a good doctor, we have to find out/ ask "where's your pain?" in order to help people we're working with. This transfer we are focusing on learning the language of the spirit- a topic which I always feel like I have lots I want to learn/ improve on, so I'm excited. We are going to Delft today for P-day. I'm so happy to be here and love jullie!
Zuster Riley (:

Last photos from Belgium:
 Turnhout toerisme shop- love this place (the city, that is- not necessarily the tourist shop ha)

 My home for the past 6 months.
Fun fact: 80% of the playing cards used in Las Vegas come from Turnhout. Here's me by the museum ervoor.

 Familie V (: 

With Zuster P en Ermon