Monday, June 29, 2015

Week 65 - Zoetermeer

Coca cola is clever in Nederland!

 And a cute li'l Dutch urban cupcake place we passed.

 With Anja!

Haha you could say that Charlita loves America!

  (from Bb Koko's cam) - Caught me in action  

 Cool inventions for smelling sauces- perfect for Z. Lem and I who smell alllll of Z. Nyakoh's food- haha the other day we rode past a "Spicy Grill" and she said, "look, a place where I will eat and you can smell!" hahaha so funny. /  Mmmmm 

 Girls day out for P-day, aw.
Yay sales! Doesn't make too much of a difference for my window shopping haha, but this is the inside of the store Zara, a missionary favorite. /  Red with Z. Koko
Sales and selfie / This nice tram conductor wanted a pic with us.

Dag Familie Riley,
The open house on Saturday was neat- yes, we had 80 visitors in comparison with the 1,100 visitors who showed up last year, but it was cool being able to have personal conversations during and after the church tours, because it was slower. It was sooo hard to get info/ set up follow-up appts though.. so many really cool and interested people who got a positive impression of our church and associate it with Christ and families and want to study the BoM, but also wanted the ball to be in their court and said they'd call/ come when they had time/ questions- but still did manage to get a few, and either way, they hopefully left with church materials/ resources and curiosity and good vibes. 

One of the coolest parts of the day was that L, an inactive lady whose daughter we'd been teaching but eventually decided to take a break with regularly visiting because they were not keeping commitments, came and stayed for hours... she was really touched by a song that a member sang about the lady who had the faith to touch the Savior to be healed, and told me that it's time for her to take a step and reach out, like that lady, in faith and come back to church (she's going through a hard time right now- nasty divorce). Sure enough, she came to church the next day for the first time in years and even brought her boyfriend and was explaining things to him, really wanting him to have a good experience. 

Alexandra came to church (finally people are coming again- wow, some of the happiest, and most spiritual experiences on my mission have been sitting next to investigators during sacrament meeting) and in true Dutch fashion, we picked her up on our bikes. I was so happy biking along the canals to the church with this sweet fellow 20 year old who believes in God and wants to learn more- there are certain controversial topics that she does not agree with the Church's stance on, but I really believe that as she gains a testimony of the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelation, and her relationship with Heavenly Father and the Savior increases, she will understand certain doctrines in faith and trust. 

There's this super cute older lady named Peggy (she's at least 50 but is beautiful and looks so young) who lives in our apt building and who we've run into in the elevator/ walking her dog a few times, and turns out she's friends with a member, and she agreed to meet with us at a nearby cafe to get to know each other/ hear our stories. Based off of what the member said, we were planning to keep it chill and not necessarily teach a whole lesson/ scare her off, but as we sat down, Peggy pulled out a Book of Mormon and said she had lots of questions but was sure we had something planned, and we ended up teaching her the Restoration and lots of the PoS, and when we'd given her two recommended chapters to read, she asked for a few more because she loves studying. She is so polite and intelligent and kind, and it was a really cool surprise in-depth lesson! She has 2 children- twins, actually- and I when exclaimed "me, too!" and pointed to a picture of Madi on my scripture case, she was surprised that I had such an old daughter! I clarified that she was my sister, and she said that made a lot more sense. 

We had a cool back-porch-side chat with N, the sister of a nice member whose house I ate dinner at on exchanges in Den Haag, and she was so friendly towards us, and kept defending/ supporting us when her husband G muttered antagonizing and mocking comments at us. She said she can tell there's something beautiful and true about the temple and the work that goes on in there. 

All in all a great week, meeting lots of cool people, and Z. Nyakoh bb Koko is with us until the end of the transfer actually, yay, that would've been sad without her! (But of course that's the second disappointment with her visa for her.)
Love you all!!!
Liefs, Z. Riley (:  
 The Den Haag zusters won the daily BoM trivia question competition last transfer, so I treated them to a treat as promised. It was so intense, both companionships took it pretty seriously haha.

Modern Dutch architecture..
 .. and older Dutch architecture. / Rotterdam is beautiful!

 Baby Koko got her some free fresh garlic from a friendly gardener neighbor in the elevator / We love the Asian winkel! Check out these red bean desserts that we will have to try one day..
 Roy (Charlita's dad) hard at work- teaching us the secrets of Surinaams cooking.

Roti! So delicious, and he even made a vegetarian option (with chickpeas- coongries or something in Surinaams tongo dialect). It was a really cool appt. because R and their other daughter N who weren't always so pleased with A joining the church are really opening up to us and we had a great, uplifting time, I really love that family!

Zuster Van der Scheer's cat and Z. Nyakoh do not get along.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Week 64 - Zoetermeer

Love these crazies! 

 Hey Familie!  Thanks for all the reunion pics, looks like a blast. Happy Birthday, Isaac!

I went on exchanges to Den Haag with Zuster Hopkin which was fun and of course crazy, because something crazy always tends to happen on exchanges. We went to an appt. with their baptismal date, and he was stressed out because he may get kicked out of his house in 2 weeks and end up in jail if he can't pay off a debt, and our joint teach (an older lady who joined the church a few years ago) started bonding with him over her experience in prison a while back (which we weren't aware of ha), but it was cool because she was able to help him see that things will work out if we're keeping the commandments, and that while there are always consequences for our actions, there's always hope and change and new beginnings through Jesus Christ. What a beautiful concept to know and base your life on.

Yesterday was a little disappointing when we went to look up S - a cool non-religious young guy who we had a cool doorstep convo with about geloof and said we were always welcome back- we saw his shadow in the kitchen window, but he didn't answer after seeing who we were. Then, we went to M's to swing by an invitation for the new church bldg open house going on next week, and after making a split second eye contact through her dim window, she avoided us and didn't open, and hasn't been answering our calls. That stung, because we've met with her twice, and she came to Lucie's doopdienst and Wouter's BBQ, and had lots of good questions, and seemed to enjoy learning and meeting with us. Granted, all her questions come from the confusion swimming around her head that comes from trying to investigate every church in Zoetermeer at the same time ha.

On Friday, we handed out lots of flyers for the open house (people generally respond really positively to these- curiosity and wanting to be in-the-know of the world around them) in the downtown shopping area with Suzanne (a member- that way we were able to split up and talk to more people), and experienced reactions on both ends of the spectrum. Right after a middle-aged man glared at us (and our nametags) and basically told us "Get thee hence," we both agreed that we needed some good conversations to cancel some of these other ones out, and mere seconds later, we met this nice older Christian man who invited us to sit on the bench with him as he waited for his taxi, and invited us to tell him what we believed and to testify of who Christ is for us. He's interested in hearing about the BoM.

This last week was filled with finding- lots of doors, stopping people on the street, bel-ups, etc., and was pretty exhausting for us all. But so worth it when ie yesterday morning on the way to stake conference, we talked to a sweet Christian middle-aged Dutch lady, S, who shared some cool experiences with us and invited us to come over next week to share a Book of Mormon and to see her paintings. A is also doing so well- we had a really cool lesson talking about prophets and focusing on Christ and the Atonement and what it means for us. Nothing brings the spirit quicker than testifying of Christ. I am so grateful for the knowledge that Heavenly Father loves us so much that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to make it possible to become clean and reach our glorious potential.
Zuster Riley (:
P.S. So cool that you ran into KOEN at the HBLL!!!! 

Photo from Elder Jardine

Took advantage of some rare downtime last week while Z. Lemich was recovering and she had me dye her hair.. It might've turned a little too close to Nederland Oranje, but luckily the next day was P-day so it got fixed haha. 

Heyyy Baby Koko (: 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Week 63 - Zoetermeer Ziekenhuis

With the Robinsons! 

With Zr. Robinson!  /  With the zone leaders 

Hey train ride 

Halloooo! This weekend we were inside for three days because both my poor companions got pretty sick.. first one with a bad fever, then a stomach flu. I might've originally gotten them sick- I didn't feel too great last week myself, but luckily it didn't last too long for me- the worst part was that I woke up the morning of zone training with a barely audible voice, so had to have my comps help out with singing "A Whole New World" (I'll send you the lyrics- the genius Z. Voss did it again, she's so good at making parodies).. haha I got talked into coming up with and singing a disney parody with the zone leaders to present our zone vision again, so in case I didn't embarrass myself in public enough with "Let It Glow"...(: 

Wijkzoetermeer heard why we couldn't make it to church and is so kind and brought us all types of delicious healthy food/ basically a sweet older lady's entire herb garden, it's so touching how they really take us missionaries in under their wings and treat us as if we're their own children. I got lots of study time, as well as cooking/ cleaning/ napping/ writing/ running laps along the balcony to get some fresh air when I got stir-crazy/ calling people time. But luckily we're all feeling much better, just in time to start a new busy week. 

Here's a story that I'm pretty sure any sister missionary serving in Belgium can relate to: We were sitting on the train coming pack from Brussels (to work on some Visa paperwork so Z. Nyakoh, who lives in Belgium, can go across the channel to the Preston MTC for 13 days), and I was sitting in a row by myself because I didn't feel too well and wanted to catch some zzzzs. As I woke up from my nap, I made eye contact with a smelly, tan, middle-aged man walking past who curled his lips into a smile and said in broken English, "I love you" a few times, then reached for my hand and smooched it. Hey, I'll take the hand over the cheek/ lips, right? Ha the good part though was that I met two nice American tourist women sitting behind me who offered to be my bodyguards for the rest of the ride, and turns out one of them has an LDS step-mom in SLC. 

We had a really neat RaD in front of the church with a nice young Christian student from Curacao named Gilberto, but he's going on vacation for a few months so that's always a little tricky. We take turns cooking for each other on the rare nights that we don't have dinner appts, which is so fun. You know we're good friends when we're not even sick of each other after being in the same apt together allll weekend. (: 

Have a good time at the reunion! Ik hou van jullie. 
Zuster Riley (: 

Zr. Verdegam! 
Isn't she so cute! / Z. Lemich is so creative and made us around-the-world "cupcakes", so lekker and fun

Course 1 from my night to cook- creamy avocado pesto and pumpkin muffins (thanks for the pumpkin, mom(: ) 

Throwing our lunches together real quick, hello veggies 

Nederland is beautiful, and instead of playing out back on the tramp, they play on the blow-up raft in the back canal haha

From the Robisons' blog:

Den Haag Zone
 Singing the birthday song

Eating at zone conference (guess who's loading her plate with lettuce??!!)