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 (:.
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