Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Week 60 - End of Transfer 9

 We love us some Baby Koko!
 Cute houses in Scheveningen (coastal city where we teach Chinese Yali English)  
With A- she showed us around Leiden. (: 

Oleah and Rosanne! Love these li'l cuties. (:  

I love Lucie! 


 Wearing jeans/ service with Lucie! 

 Rosanne and Oleah again!

 Cool public gym playground in Oosterheem! 

 From Zuster Lemich: We carried an ironing board on our bikes...hahaha go sister Riley!

 Look who I got to see (don't worry, got that permission)- so nice of them to swing by and say "hi"!!!!! (A family from our ward in Florida, including Eliza's former seminary teacher, stopped by to see Eliza while on a trip through Europe!)

Hoi Familie Riley!
I am happy to report that I will be staying in Zoetermeer next transfer with Zuster Lemich and Zuster Nyakoh (Z. Nyakoh leaves to the MTC 26 June).

On Tuesday evening, we had a really cool lesson with C, A, and R. A was baptized a few years ago and comes to yoga every week, but her Catholic husband, R, only likes her to go to church about once a month. C is 15 and loves the Zusters and youth conference which she goes to and wants to serve a mission because it seems fun and exciting.. but R didn't want her to become a member (doesn't think rebaptism is necessary). But, we ended up going over to work on some personal progress with C, and we read lots of scriptures about the atonement and R sat in and participated and wow, the Spirit is so strong when you testify about Jesus Christ. A told us later that Roy has decided to let them do their own thing and is feeling much more positive towards their involvement with the Church.. and, he wants to have us over to teach us how to cook delicious veggies with Surinaams herbs.
We went to sushi with A, and she is so cool- we even met her friend, J, who wants to meet up with us as well. It's cool connecting as friends/ "normal people" and having the subject of faith come up naturally, and I hope we can start really teaching them.

Saturday afternoon, we had a lesson with Br. Palacio's coworker and wife (and two children) in the Palacios' home.. member referrals are gold, and I'm always honored when members trust us to help represent the gospel to coworkers/ neighbors/ friends. The couple, M and I, are agnostic, but M was pretty curious with questions about what sets our faith apart from ie Catholicism (we ended up talking a lot about modern-day prophets), and while I has pretty much decided that now that she's older and wiser, she'd have to see God to believe in Him, she's really interested in family history, and has definitely heard of our church associated with that.

Saturday evening was a beautiful baptismal service for Lucie and Rosanne- you could really feel the love of the members for the family, and Ruud was able to skype in, and the talks/ songs/ Spirit there was amazing. And M even came with her husband (Lucie came along for a lesson/ church tour a few weeks ago for M and had invited her to her baptism!).

There was a neat RS activity with the Wassnaar ward about dealing with special needs children, and C came and told us she enjoyed it a lot more than she thought she would. 
This week was so great, and I love this work. Thanks for your love and support and amazing PACKAGE. (:
Veel liefs, 
Zuster Riley (: 

 Zuster Lemich made us delicious Thai coconut curry. 

Love finding this on my camera (; /  You know you're in Nederland when candy stores have walls covered in all shapes & sizes of drop (black licorice)

Our friends visiting the Netherlands said they were taking along an empty suitcase and could fill it with stuff we wanted to send to Eliza...  so we loaded it up! Dried fruit, nuts, homemade granola, a stuffed penguin, a-letter-a-day for several days, photos, etc... here's Josh's packaging for the granola - maybe his drawings are not quite "missionary appropriate" but I love his "maple syrup from free-range maple trees"
THANKS SOOOOOO MUCH FOR THE PACKAGE wow sooooo goood, I love it so much wow you know me so well it's like Christmas having all these things to open and delicious treats!!! And Zuster Lemich has the same taste buds so we are in HEAVEN and Zuster Nyakoh loves the dried mango especially!! I LOVE the pics/ Christmas letters/ having something every day!!!  They were so nice to come out of their way to drop it off, and luckily caught us right before we had to leave! Haha Br. Armbruster said to read chapter 3 of his book and made me promise to give it away to one of the expats in Wassenaar. By the way, Zuster Nyakoh is sitting right here and wants to thank you for the delicious food, and she's been sleeping with my penguin (her bed is in a separate room so we didn't want her to be lonely) and loves it as well.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Week 59 - Three's the charm!

 Mm my favorite! Ha this was ironically taken right before we were served giant juicy hamburgers at a dinner appt. (; 

The trio! Love them! 

Hey Familie Van Rijlie, 
So good skyping home, you all look and sound and are great and I love you all so much. So the big news this week is that we have a third companion for at least 10 days- Zuster Nyakoh (or "Baby Koko" as we call her)! She's originally from Ghana, but has lived in Gent, Belgium for the past 4 years (I knew her as Jessica the awesome Jovo joint teach when I served there).. she was supposed to report to the Preston MTC last Wednesday (called to this mission but already speaks the language fluently), but because of paperwork problems at the airport, she'll be serving with us in Zoetermeer until everything works out for her to go to the MTC. She's a champ and has us all cracking up a lot, but it's also been pretty rough for her with all these unexpected disappointments and changes.. I guess this just means that there's someone in Zoetermeer who needs her right now. Haha 

We were teaching this older guy J on the bench in front of the temple, who we met a week ago on that same bench, and he's an interesting guy- grew up Catholic, went to the temple open house years ago and has been fascinated with photographing the temple ever since, says he knows a lot about us (but still wants to meet and clear up questions ie why we have to give half of our salary to Church [members choose to give 10% of their income to Church as tithing]) and it was a solid Restoration lesson until he got sidetracked and ended up telling us that because of certain experiences, he literally thinks he is God. Also, he remarked on how it was interesting that we all had green-ish eyes, and Zuster Nyakoh just glared at him and said, "um, mijne ogen zijn BRUIN" haha it was really funny. 

It was pretty disappointing getting a text from J (this super cool Jovo former investigator who we felt like we needed to look up and did and she was so excited to see us and we had two great lessons and she said that same morning she'd been feeling like she really needed to make a decision and choose one church that would lead the rest of her life and then we showed up..), the text essentially said that she doesn't want to be pressured into becoming a member and would like missionaries to please stop coming by- she'll contact us if she feels the need to. It's weird because apparently that has happened twice before with her texting something that contradicts her enthusiasm in person to see us, and we'd even called her two hours earlier to confirm going to yoga and having an appt. at the church the next week. Something cool is that even though a few of the former investigators we are looking up are not interested in meeting up any more, they are still so excited to see us because of their great experiences and relationships with previous Sisters, so that's given me a lot of respect and gratitude for the missionaries serving here before. 

We got a Headquarters referral that led us to an adorable little Dutch family- turns out the cutie 12- year old son is doing a report of Mormonism in his religious studies class at school, and wanted a Book of Mormon. They've really been enjoying learning about our faith, mostly via church websites, and unfortunately don't feel the need to meet with us, but are interested in coming to church (esp. if T, the son, gets extra credit), but this was another reminder that the Lord's timing is different that what we might want, and sometimes it's just important that the "seed was planted" and positive contact associated with our Church is made. 

L and R are so solid- they've been having a hard time, with some unexpected trials ie Br. De Vries ending up in the hospital, but they were still at church yesterday and are still doing everything they can to have their baptism go through for this Saturday. We were showing Z. Nyakoh the secrets of door contacting last night, and approached a door that had a note next to the doorbell that essentially said "Sorry, I don't buy things at my door. Yes, I already donate to good causes. No, I don't need to be converted," and while we were reading that- we hadn't even rung- the door opened, and a middle-aged lady opened up, saw our nametags, pointed to her little sign, started to close the door.. but once we clarified that we just wanted to share thoughts about God's plan for families and we personally wouldn't be convincing or converting- it's gotta come from herself-  we ended up having a 30 minute friendly discussion about beliefs.. she wanted nothing to do with books/ bibles/ organized religion/ coercive rules, but believed in personal accountability and agency and life before and after this mortal existence.. definitely a lot of truth in her beliefs, but she contradicted herself ie with how this life is to learn and progress- but she knows everything she needs to know, or that she knows if something is right for her/ if it comes from God by how she feels, but at the same time isn't willing to try to see how she feels with something new. 

We're going to meet up with A, the cool German Keukenhof worker, later today and talk more about our thoughts on faith, and she's going to show us around Leiden (where she lives)! 
Happy 14th B-day, J-dawg! 
Zuster Riley (: 
Thanks for all the mail btw, I esp love the testimony mtg notes.. fun to hear how the home ward is thriving. Love you!!! (: 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Week 58 - Zoetermeer

The Nielsen family (visiting Netherlands with their newly-RM son) sent me this photo!

 Yes she was. 

C !     /      personal progress with Dharmz (: 

 Zuster K!

 Can't have too many of these pics!    /     Zuster U!  

Dag Familie Riley,
great seeing you all yesterday on Skype! Hope your Mothers Day was a good one, Mom. (: On Monday, I went to the Rotterdam Markthal with a less active and her investigator daughter for a second time- this time, with Zuster K and C, instead of Leah and Lara who took us last time- and it was really nice getting to know them better and spending the day together. C is so busy with work (she works at a center with handicapped children) so it's hard to meet regularly, but she feels really positively towards our church and has great questions, especially about modern-day prophets. I really hope we can get in with her soon and teach her more. 

We went over to Zuster U's that evening to make Indian vegetable curry (which was so delicious and she had all her real S. African curry powders brought with her from Durban), and it's been neat seeing her come back to church- she's had a rough life, but she has a lot of faith, and keeps a positive perspective. 

On Tuesday, Zuster Bradley came to work with me here on exchanges, and we swung by the house of Melony- a middle-aged Dutch lady who recently ran into some Elders in Amsterdam and talked to them because she lives in Zoetermeer near the new church building and had gone to the open house last year, and even though her friends tell her that our church is a sect, she was curious about what we believe in and really enjoyed the open house. She was super friendly and we set up an appt for a tour/ lesson at the church that coming Friday evening. The coolest part was that Lucie, who is getting baptized in two weeks, came as a joint teach, and testified and answered questions like a pro.. it was so cool, especially for Lucie to realize how much she does understand and believe. Lucie and Rosanne are just doing so well- so excited to be baptized, inviting their friends and family, talking about being sealed as a family in a year.. really applicable to the theme of "standing in the waters of baptism facing the temple" that our mission will be focusing on next transfer- namely, helping investigators prepare for a life of sacred ordinances as opposed to seeing baptism as an end goal. 

Because Rosanne is 10, we like to teach with activities- ie we were reviewing the importance of keeping the sabbath day holy, and dished up a bowl of ice cream for her. (Luckily, even Dutch McDonalds menus use the word "sundae" btw). Then we had her take out her favorite sauces for rice/ pasta/ fries- ie curry ketchup, mayo, pesto. We talked about how these sauces are good on a lot of things, and would represent hobbies/ pastimes that are good- family vacation to Disneyland, grocery shopping, jogging, even sleeping in, etc. So, if they're good, they'll be good on a Sunday (sundae), right? So we poured them all over the ice cream, and talked about how just like there are better things for a sundae- cherries, nuts, whipped cream, there are better things for a Sunday- going to church, visiting sick and elderly, writing in your journal, thinking about spiritual things. Even though Rosanne is young- almost 11- she really is making this decision for herself and understands things, really cool.

English lesson was so funny on Wednesday night- we were teaching our students about words with food/ meals, and playing hangman, and Hohannes (from Armenia, speaks Dutch) stumped us with a word- peelmen- which apparently is a Russian dish, and Zuster Lemich and I could not stop laughing, because of course the whole point was to learn more English, not Russian, words, and Peter, the British recent convert older man who has crazy stories (and pictures..) from his days as an ice-skater in the European travelling circus, kept saying in his British accent, "Do you two ever stop giggling? Are all American classes taught like this?" which of course just made it worse. 

I almost ran over a little boy on my bike the other day while speeding along Dorpstraat, but whew, crisis avoided. My bike has slowly been deteriorating over the course of my mission (it's held together by duct tape and stuck on the highest gear and has jangly metal wires bouncing all over the place), but I'm determined to not have to buy another one.. it can just be a little dangerous when one of my brakes decides to stop working. (: We went to the Markham Family's place to eat on Saturday which is such a treat- they are vegan!- and it is so fun to get to know them better, they are so cool and good. The members are so good to us missionaries here.
Know that I am happy and safe and doing well, and love you all! Thanks for the prayers and support! Fijne week,
Zuster Riley (:  

 Rotterdam is toch mooi! 

 A swan with 4 soon-to-be-hatched-ugly ducklings. 

We had exotic fruit day on Saturday and decided to try dragon fruit from the market (- it looks cooler than it tastes).
From Zuster Lemich: we love that cocao powder :) hahaha oh man.

 cooking with a less active Dharma!!   /   Riding up escalators with bikes....only in Nederland! :)


Week 58 - Mother's Day Skype session! And a few more photos

We loved skyping to the Netherlands, Provo, and Kosovo! It was fun to watch Madi and Eliza see each other again after more than a year: they squealed and laughed and cried. Isaac told his sisters his big news for the week: he has a new job as an MTC Russian teacher! Eliza spoke Dutch for us (which Madi said sounds like "dirty German") and Madi spoke Albanian. Eliza loves her mission, her area, and her comp. It's so good to see her so happy!

Konings Dag
Pic with the Romigs

Monday, May 4, 2015

Week 57 - Zoetermeer - Konings Dag

 From Zuster Lemich: Our booth and crazy missionaries on konings dag! 
 Got my hair done by this little Dutch cutie at the ward potluck Elyse Riley look-alike?)!

 With Charlita- her mom's a recent convert, and she wants to learn more now, too.
 Goofing off!

 With her mom, Gwendolyn- matching hair.

Whew, busy week- sometimes it can be pretty crazy trying to juggle working in and pleasing both wards we're serving in.. but so good, too. On King's Day, we met this young guy Erik who was walking past and Zuster Lemich asked him if he wanted a free book, and he came and sat down with us and we had about a 30-minute convo about faith, religion, God, why we're here, etc... and he eventually took a Book of Mormon and agreed to meet up. 

Yesterday evening, we met at the church building with a Rik and Flora (a super cute and cool young couple), and had a lesson covering the Restoration and the Plan and some.. he had such good questions- especially about 2 Nephi 2 which he had totally read- and I felt the Spirit so strongly testifying to him, telling him that despite the fact that we're not perfect teachers and don't have all the answers/ speak the language perfectly, our message is true. We finally taught Cheryl again, and we're actually going to the Markthal in Rotterdam with her today. She has such good questions and insights as well, and is definitely searching for truth- she can see a lot of truth in many different religions, but not nec. just one yet... it was a really good lesson for Zuster Lemich and I, nicely balanced and teaching in unity- we've been sneaking in a lot of quicker doorstep/ street/ post-lunch cafe lessons (sharing a scripture and testifying of a principle and praying), which are great and all, but it felt good to have two thorough, full lessons with investigators so interested and engaged. 

Samantha (almost 9), the daughter of Elfride, got baptized on Saturday, and she is so cute. Ah, after a day full of talking to people in Scheveningen on King's Day, we met up with Anna at Subway in Den Haag, and she is so cool! Anna is the German 22-yr old Keukenhof worker who I met after taking a picture with her at temple conference, and it was so great getting to know her. She said she's in a sort of "still-deciding-period" when it comes to religion, and we're going to meet again in two weeks, and share more what we each believe! She's so cool though ah. 

I was reading in Acts 11- a good reminder that God is no respecter of persons, and I know that He loves all of His Children so much and is waiting with outstretched arms for us to return to Him. I see that every week on my mission, coming across people who He has obviously been preparing for so long. I'm humbled that as an inadequate, weak 20 yr old I can become an instrument through which the Lord can work to help others change their lives.

Fijne week verder, en veel liefs vanuit Zoetermeer! (Great week ahead, and much love from Zoetermeer)
Zuster Riley (:

Trouwens- due to prior appt.s, we probably won't Skype until about 8pm next Sunday. Can't wait!!! (: 

End of last transfer- matching with Zuster Faa!