Sunday, April 26, 2015

Week 56 - Pre-koningsdag

 Zoetermeer is really diverse! 

Dutch women wall art 

Hoi Familie Riley-
Z. Lemich and I snuck on the computers this nice saturday morning because we were bored and felt like emailing- JUST KIDDING ha we're going to be out in Den Haag talking to people at our booth at the vrijmarkt on Monday for Koningsdag, so today is our P-day. (: 

We've been all over the place for different appointments and visits, but quite a few of our investigators are leaving on vacation next week for spring break so we'll have lots of time to find new people to work with, who are ready for this blije boodschap of the restored gospel. Which btw is especially fun when it's sunny outside, ah I love it. 

We went over to a sweet American (married to a Dutch man) lady's house on Tuesday for dinner- she's not a member (she definitely is a Christian), but grew up in Houston and later Naples, Fl and has always had good friends who are members of the Church- she even went to early-morning seminary during high school years ago in Texas because she was dating a member- and comes to the wijkwassenaar RS activities and is so sweet. She didn't want to be preached at, but she kept saying how we were good, smart, young people and how of course she's going to be hospitible to the Lord's servants. 

Another cool experience with a non-member opening up to us thanks to positive contact throughout the years through good member friends, was Sister B- she and her husband are Lutheran, but come with their 6 kids to wijkwassenaar when they can because they feel at home there. We went over to help with laundry/ dishes/ cute little baby twins (her other set of twins and other two kids were at school) and had such a good friendly, uplifting chat, and we're going to come back regularly to help her out. I already feel such a good spirit in her home, and can't wait to get to know her and her sweet family better. 

Z. Lemich and I had a spicy contest with Indonesian sambal and my tolerance is going up- she's rubbing off on me, I'm starting to love spicy food ha. We ran into Chys last week, and she disappointedly told us that her mom was a little weirded out that some random church women wanted to meet up with her daughter so wouldn't let her come to our lunch date/ lesson Chys'd planned for us- but Z. Lemich and I actually swung by her mom's house a few afternoons later just to introduce ourselves, and it was so good- she seemed really relieved to meet us and see that we weren't trying to change or brainwash her daughter, just inviting her to fun and wholesome activities and answering Chys's questions to us about what we do. Her mom was so cute and sweet and introduced the little sister to us and even said she'd probably want to come check out church herself just to see what it entails- I think she was surprised to hear that there are "normal", religious young people and her curiousity was a little peaked. 

Thanks so much for the prayers and love and support- they are really felt and appreciated. (: 
Happy King's Day! Wear orange on Monday. (: 
Zuster Riley (: 

Z. Lemich being a hippie tree-hugger on Earth Day (: 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Week 55 - Transfer 9

New transfer already!
 Eliza's 8th companion in 9 transfers 
 Our beautiful church building!

 And the beautiful temple. (:

  Jonas Symynck (from Gent) served a mini-zending in Den Haag.

Goeie dag Familie Riley!
    So, Zuster Lemich, my beautiful new companion, is awesome. She grew up in Wyoming until she moved to Cedar City, UT in her teens, and went to U of Utah for a year. (She's lactose-intolerant and a health nut as well; we could talk all day about date-nut butter-coconut- concoctions and quinoa salads and veggie curries..) and it's just so fun working with her and Zoetermeer loves her so much already and we're already such good friends. She just served in Breda for six months and speaks very highly of it, so I'm glad that the lovely Zuster Faa (now serving in Breda) is in such a good place now as well. (:

    Tuesday night we had a really neat lesson at the home of Familie De V. I was a little nervous going over there because there had been a slip-up on our part in communication with L and R about their baptism date- we'd understood that they were planning on 25 April to be baptized (which we even told a couple members at church when they asked), while they were thinking of end of April as more of a goal and sometime in May as the realistic time, and it ended up getting announced in primary, much to R's surprise. But they were so nice and forgiving and on Tuesday night got out the calendar and agreed that 23 May (someone's 14th birthday, eh J-dawg?) was the best time with their schedule/ feeling prepared, and R kept making sure it was really going through and  was so excited to plan it all, and L said how she feels like all the puzzle pieces are really coming together and the gospel is really making sense. R bore a sweet testimony about how at first church was new and frankly a bit weird with all the church-y terms, but now she feels so good there and understands things much better. They are both excited to finally have chosen a set date to be baptized, and of course the whole ward is so excited for these dear friends of theirs.

    Samantha, the 8 yr old daughter of a sweet less-active lady, E, wants to be baptized and E finally feels like she is ready and she will be baptized on 2 May. Samantha has such a pure desire to do good, and I'm always re-amazed at the faith of children. They really are the future of the Church.

    Speaking of baptisms, we moved L's date back to the end of May to make it more realistic- she's reading and asking good questions and progressing, but between her Mom who schedules family trips every weekend (although she says she wants L to progress) and staying with her Dad (who is totally against the church) every other weekend, she still hasn't made it to church. Actually, that's something we've been struggling here- getting investigators to come to church- which is surprising to me considering the amazingly strong and warm 2 wards we work with, and the many positive people we are working with. But Zuster Lemich and I are really going to try to improve that.

   On last-minute exchanges with Zuster Voss, we went back and forth between Den Haag and Zoetermeer to juggle appts in both cities (not complaining, what missionary doesn't love a day full of appts?) and met with M, this super sweet Christian Surinaams woman. Her house had such good, peaceful vibes and we all hit it off really well and next thing I knew we were sitting on her couch singing and harmonizing Sound of Music songs ha. Then we taught her a RaD which felt so good- the spirit really was in her home- until at the end when she wouldn't take the BoM (she said she has enough Bibles/ she'll just pray about it/ we can bring it and read it together)... it was so interesting, because both Z. Voss and I picked up on that immediate switch in the feel in her home. She was so sweet though and we left with basically her entire freezer (leftovers of delicious homemade Surinaams food to heat up and eat for dinner). Something really neat that was definitely not a coincidence ("coincidence is often God acting anonymously") was the fact that her son, Lorenzo, who came in at the end and talked to us for a while, was the same Lorenzo who the Assen sisters excitedly called Den Haag sisters about approx. a month ago when I was on exchanges- he'd been to his LDS friend's baptism and saw the Assen sisters on a train and came up and talked to them, and had been taught one lesson recently here in DH! And then the DH sisters just met M, his mother, on the street and ended up coming over and having a neat lesson with her- what are the odds.

    Yali is a cute Jovo-aged Chinese student who was referred to us by Liping (a member) after Yali came to the music concert, and we are mostly teaching her English- but through MTC study books (she speaks good Dutch and Dutch and English are easier for her to juxtapose) which contain simple sentences about gospel principles. She is so nice and friendly and hard-working, I really like her.

   I'm excited to be focusing so much on the Book of Mormon this transfer- it really does contain the word of God and brings me closer to my Savior Jesus Christ. Where are you reading as a fam right now?
    Love you lots- veel liefs!
Zuster Riley (:

Cassandra and Chys!

 Scooping poop at Wouter's cow farm! (Wouter is a super cool recent convert).

Tulip fields in Hillegom (where a wassenaar less-active lives)!

From the Romigs: We invited the missionaries over to our house for our district meeting today. We fed them fajitas for lunch. They are a great bunch of missionaries. Three of the missionaries just transferred into our district.

From the Robinson's bl0g: Joint teach with President Robinson, teaching Isaac in Gent (2 transfers ago)

Week 54 - More pictures from Keukenhof

So beautiful! Smelled delicious too of course.
 With Zr. Lemich at Keukenhof (before we knew we were going to be companions)!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Week 54 - Zoetermeer (plus temple trip and Keukenhof)

Anna and Nienke! 

Photos taken by other missionaries that day at Keukenhof Tulip Park (a.k.a. The Garden of Europe; the world's largest flower garden)

 Blast from the past: Here is Eliza at Keukenhof exactly 8 years ago, on a family trip to Netherlands (when we lived in Germany). I NEVER imagined she'd be back here as a missionary - but I'm so glad she is!
April 2007 - Eliza with little sister Rachel at Keukenhof

Lieve Fam Riley,
Somehow it's already transfers again and Zuster Faa is leaving me and her baby city and spreading her wings to southern NL- Breda. Actually, we're switching companions, Zuster Lemmich is coming here! I'll miss Z. Faa, aw.

So as a disclaimer, I feel like every Monday sister missionaries all around the world email home about all the wonderful miracles happening in their respective area and it may seem like there's some miracle inflation going on but let me tell ya that in the most cynically realistic and honest way, there were some really cool things that happened this week! Ah this was actually just such a good week in general- in fact, Saturday night I wrote in my journal "ah wow today/ right now is just one of those moments where I can full-heartedly agree with those missionaries/ youth devotional speakers who testify of the pure joy of missionary work and how it really is one of the happiest times of their lives etc." and then I went on to describe our week which I will attempt to do in my limited time. 

So, on Monday, Zuster Faa and I went to less-active member L's house for a tweede paasdag brunch with her non-member bf and investigator daughter, L. She'd originally invited us to spend the afternoon (our P-day) with her shopping in Sheveningen, but they last-minute decided to take us to the Rotterdam Markthal, this super nice (aka overpriced) flea market, ah it was so fun and there were tons of samples of olives and exotic dried fruit and nut concoctions and veggie chips I was in heaven yum. They drove around the beautiful Rotterdam harbor as well, it was fun and important to get to know them all better as friends  in a relaxed setting (sisters have been trying to get in touch with this family for months so it's neat that they're ready again). 

The next afternoon, we went back over to their place to teach L about the plan of salvation and it was a really cool lesson, she was really soaking it all in and engaged in the discussion, and still wants to be baptized- we have the end of this month as a goal (25th), but the only problem is that every other weekend she's supposed to be out of town in Utrecht at her Dad's place who does not support her going to church.. it was disappointing that she couldn't end up coming to church or young women's this week even after we had a ride all lined up (they had to switch weekends last minute) but she'll come next week. 

But before L, we had a lesson with Angela, a sweet Christian mother from Curacao who has been meeting with sisters for quite a few months and it was such a good lesson focused on Christ- pure testimony of the Savior invites the Spirit- and she cried during the mormon message "Come Unto Christ" and we were able to hear her testimony of Christ and we set a baptismal date with her for the first Saturday in June. She's so good, we just want her to realize how ready she is, and want her to start prioritizing coming to church again. 

That morning we did a pre-lunch "power hour" of look-ups and finding (which I've been a huge fan of ever since Zuster Meier and I re-found a really cool former right before lunch one morning almost a year ago in Groningen) and I finally got to meet Z. E  (investigator) and son A (recent convert) who we've been trying to get in contact with all transfer, and she set up a return appt. We talked to a Jovo whose mom is apparently a witch, which was interesting, and then we decided to knock some doors before going back home. The very first one was E, a Catholic from Suriname who welcomes anyone Christian inside and thinks all religions are equally good/ none are better than the other. He talks a lot but was pretty interested in the BoM and our message and we had a cool doorstep lesson and are coming back this week. 

Wednesday was amazing because we got to go to the temple with half of our mission and it felt great and I think I'm understanding more each time I go- but I did make every rookie mistake ever including walking down the corridor that leads to the male dressing room oops I felt like a "foolish servant" but it was so great and the VanderPuts were there and I got to reunite with as well as get to better know so many missionaries each with such an inspiring story and then we went to Keukenhof. It started off great, with Sister Voss and I asking two girls about our age who were working at the park dressed up as princesses (see attached pic) and the girl I was talking to, Anna, is German so we chatted away auf deutsch which was great and instantly bonded us and next thing we know the whole group of missionaries had left probably 25 mins ago and then Sister Voss and I look at each other and can basically hear the Robinsons' voices echoing in our ears from when they warned the missionaries that the group windmill pic would be taken at the appointed time with absolutely no retakes/ waiting for those who didn't make it so we sprint all the way across this huge tulip park and were able to slip into the picture literally just in time. 

But, the best part was that a few hours later on the bus coming back that evening, Sister Voss got a text from Nienke, the girl she hit it off with and was talking to, who wants to meet up (maybe go for lunch in Delft on a P-day?) and talk and learn more about what (and why) we do- we felt like Elder Calhoun in "The Best Two Years" when he looks up and is like ''Hallelujah, he CALLED" because they didn't have their numbers on them so we just told them to text us. And then last night I got a text (in German) from Anna! I can't wait to meet up with them. 

So, wednesday night after Keukenhof, I actually went on exchanges up in Lelystad with Z. Cowles- ha I was pretty tired (2 nights in a row of 6 Sister missionaries all sleeping over together and talking about family and boys back home/ thought and fears regarding marriage/ crazy mission stories/ inspiring conference thoughts will do that to you), but we still managed to reminisce on/ share pictures of Gent (she just came from there, it's her "baby city") for a while that night ha. 

The next day was really cool, we had great studies and had both toevalig been reading about Abinadi and were reminded of how impressively bold he is in preaching repentance to everyone (whether they seem like the "open type" or not), and brainstormed new ways we could strike up conversations with people on the street during our finding later that day, talking to and connecting with others as people to people, and not just as religious robots going through the routine.. and within a few minutes we had a lesson and new investigator on the street. I made eye contact with a cute older lady doing her shopping who eyed me suspiciously which prompted me to just want to have a friendly conversation with her and show her that we're not as ominously threatening as we appear. So I explained that I'm not from here and was curious about Dutch traditions at Eastertime and she said it depends on whether or not you're religious which led to her opening up about her thoughts on prayer and religion and they have an appt. for next week which she was so excited about, and then a few minutes later we had a lesson and return appt. with a classy young Muslim lady who we started off talking to by complimenting her cute jacket and agreeing that it was beautiful weather and then explained who we were because she was probably curious why we stopped her/ what these nametags mean. She would love to talk more about our thoughts on God's plan for families and invited us over next week to eat something and talk. 

We had cool discussions with other people, too, and were just in a really good mood talking to so many prepared people (and it was beautiful weather outside), all before lunch. Ha I think there's this sort of 'STL-effect' where I think 'ooh gotta make sure I'm working hard because #example' and the exchangee is like 'ooh I'm with an experienced sister so we're gonna see a miracle' and positive expectations + faith = cool stuff does happen. After gospelizing lotsa pop/ rap songs with Zuster Cowles while biking to the station, we rushed to the platform to catch our train, only to be received by locked doors and watch it whistle and accelerate away from us and towards where we needed to be (a min early, I might add (; ) right before our very eyes... the next train we took encountered lots of detours and delays, but we finally made it to Den haag to switch back, and then raced furiously in Zoetermeer to our dinner appt. with non other than... the VanderPuppets. 

Meanwhile, Zr. Faa and Doxey had an awesome appt. with Familie Buysse, an American family with 6 kids under the age of 10 (2 sets of twins) who have LDS friends back in TX and self-referred themselves to the RS because they knew they'd be friendly and willing to help out and they've even come to church recently and we're going to go over every week to help out and teach, so exciting and I can't wait to meet them. They've been fellowshipped so well by a few families whose YW girls love going over to help out with kids (reminds me of something Rachel would love and be so good at doing- helping out with the kids). 

Oh btw, Zr. VanderPut showed me pics of a primary activity at our house, Branch picnic, the groundbreaking- and even saved a thank-you note from 8-yr old Mary-Elizabeth for "teaching me about Holland" at a primary activity aw so cool. We also started teaching Ping, a Chinese lady with limited Dutch but strong faith in Christ (thank goodness for Chinese-speaking joint teaches), she is so sweet! We met two adorable 12 yr old Dutch girls who came to the YW lesson I taught on Sunday and want to keep coming, and after getting on lots of "wrong" trams on Sunday (we ran into someone we knew and needed to see each time) we also met Petra at a tram station, who basically said 'come over and talk to me, I want answers from God and I've been praying for 5 years that He would send someone'! So we're going over tomorrow. Ah love you all, sorry this is long and run-on ha (:. 
Veel liefs, 
Zuster Riley (: 

Rotterdam Markthal with L and L and M 

Eliza (on the right) with her district. Photo from the Romigs: "We had a great district meeting this morning and then all 14 of us took the tram down to the city centrum. We had lunch at our favorite Italian Restaurant (Vapiano's) and then said our goodbyes to two Elders and one Sister who are being transferred tomorrow."

Found this on Zuster Robison's blog

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week 54 - E-mails from families in Zoetermeer


Dear sister Riley,

You don't know us, but we are members of the church in Zoetermeer, the Netherlands. Your daughter has been coming to our home several times now and tonight she and Sister Fa'asavalu came over for dinner and FHE.

Thank you for raising such an awesome daughter!

Here are some pictures of her and her companion teaching the lesson at family home evening. (FYI: we have three boys 8, 6, and 3 years old)

To teach them to rely on God and not on men, they had this object lesson. Her companion asked if she trusted her enough not to break an egg on her head. Your daughter said that off course she trusted her. Than this happened (see pictures).

Sister Faasavalu asked if the boys would trust her not to break an egg on their heads, and, offcourse, all three yelled "no"!!!

Than she had them read 2 Nephi 4:34-35 and asked if they would trust God?
My wife finally said yes and she cracked an empty eggshell on her head.
All three boys were so amazed that nothing came out of the egg.

I don't think they will ever forget this lesson :)

Again thank you for raising such a wonderful daughter.
She is a hard working, fun filled, and sometimes hilarious missionary.

If there is anything we can do for you, don't hesitate to ask.

Best regards,
F and M R van E 


From our Dutch friends that we met in England in 2002; Eliza is now serving in their ward!
It was so wonderful to spent 2 days last week with missionaries, first going to the Temple. Thea and I were asked to be the session leaders on the first session those 2 days, then see around 80 missionaries each day eating pizza (Domino’s did good business with the Mission) and then visiting the Keukenhof. A lot of tourists were wondering who those guys and girls were, all really nice dressed. We heard 1 woman wispering “that are the Mormons”. So they know us and recognize us.
A day later Sister Riley and her companion came for dinner to our house. Your daughter is such a wonderful missionary. As one of the few missionaries she was handing out cards to people in the Keukenhof who asked what they were doing there.
Her dutch is great and she is so good as a senior training sister ( a sort of female ZL, she is responsible for all the Sisters in her Zone) We hope she will stay a little longer here in Zoetermeer.
Best wishes
Rolf & Thea van der Put

Vanderputs in Keukenhof