Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Goed morgen schatjes! Well another week come and gone.. I swear they are going by faster and faster. This week was very eventful with a Zone Training, Sisters Conference and Transfer Calls. Which the verdict is: I will be staying in Turnhout and getting a new companion Zr. Bradley. This is her last transfer so I will be killing her. Figuratively obviously, silly missionary language. So this should be exciting... Yay I get to stay in Belgium! Okay what would I like to share with you this morning? I start with some of our funny experiences: Turnhout Station. Beautiful fall Sunday afternoon waiting for a bus... which typical Belgian buses are unpredictable. When a young typical Belgian guy, cigarette sitting in mouth walks up to us. Asks us about the buses. Clearly a motive to just start talking to us. First he thinks we are native Hollanders! But when he finds out who we are, and where we are from that only added to his excitement. Asked if we were nuns...clearly hoping that we weren't nuns. Proceeded to ask about what sports we played and make small talk. Vincent is a native Antwerpse jonge, who grew up riding horses, but now just lives that party life. Homeboy thought he was smooth and flirty. Sorry kid you ain't go get lucky with us. He finally decided to go get on a train and not wait for a bus anymore. As I turned to check on our bus time, turned back and he came in and kissed me on the cheek! WHOA! Now it was not a normal European greeting and goodbye kiss cheek to cheek thing they do. He knew we were from American and that is not a normal thing to do. Ain't nobody got time for dat! So weird to have someone attempt to flirt with you... clearly a sign I am not ready to go home and well when I do no time for boys. Boys are gross. Knocking door on Tramstraat when we hear a banging noise. Look down the street and a woman is trying to kick down a door. People in the apartment looking out the window trying to talk to her. She is just flipping people off. With no luck on the door she moves onto the windows and kicks out the windows! Dude it felt like I was watching a scene from a movie! A small crowd of people watching on the other side of the street, woman on the 3rd floor calling the police, a group of 11 year old girls on their bikes asking us what is happening and sitting gossiping about the whole incident. Could not believe my eyes... I will admit I was laughing... mostly at the commentary coming from the peanut gallery of my companion. "I just witnessed vandalism." "This world needs more peace." Oh it was very eventful. Yet it was interesting to see the neighbors come out and help this woman. I do not the story, or the motives, she clearly was hurt and those were the actions she took to handle them. But the neighbors helped her and she stayed and with their help cleaned up the glass. The police came and she went with them. Cool to see neighbors jump out and help. After an appointment, there was an old bike with what looked like a terribly uncomfortable bike seat. I pointed it out and Zr. Voss was touching the bike seat and then a woman walked out... she was the owner. We all unlocked our bikes in an awkward silence. Man I was trying so hard to not laugh. Went out to dinner with Tommy, he is a recent convert. A rockstar! He took us to a Thai restaurant and it was delicious!! Belgium. Where the rain is typical. And twice this week we got soaked through to the ondergoeden and had to go home and change. Just gotta love biking in the rain that starts as a drizzle which then it pours and there is no point in pulling over because you're already soaked. Now the more spiritual things: Lesson with Regina. She is a recent convert also who moved here from Italy, originally from Ghana. What a beautiful woman. Regina literally fled from Italy and her husband. She is in the midst of a huge complicated and hard situation. As we began the lesson she just broke down and confided in us. Conveyed her frustrations and her simple desire to serve the Lord. Yet feels like she is failing, unworthy, and alone. We had a simple lesson, read a talk from President Eyring and then pulled out our mini hymnbooks to sing to her. She asked where she could get one, and without hesitation I gave her mine. Oh my the look on her face brought me to tears. That look of surprise yet joy.. there is no greater feeling. As we opened to her favorite hymns we sang and she hummed along. Now I know that I don't have that great of a singing voice, but I know that the Lord magnifies talents when its needed! haha Because in that moment, in her apartment I felt closer to heaven. This week we had Sisters Conference and Zone Training. And well I could bore you all with what I learned but all the notes I took! haha But I will only share a glimpse of what I learned. I was hit with the reality that I have been a missionary for 11 months... almost a year. I thought that I would have my head on my shoulders and out there killing it. But I feel like Nearly Headless Nick. "How could you be nearly headless?" -Hermonie Granger Well on the one hand, because I am a disciple of Jesus Christ I am giving everything I have to be here. And because of that everything is taking its toll. My body feels old, my emotions are a roller coaster, and yet I have never been so close to the spirit and felt peace. I am hanging on by literally by the Grace of Christ. This week on Wednesday I had an eye opening moment. Waiting for the bus... we realized we missed it. Due to events and emotions I was feeling I felt like Peter. Christ warned him that he would deny him three times. Yet Peter did not believe him, how could he? Peter was a disciple, an apostle. Yet he did just that... denied him three times. Relating that to me, I feel like I am okay, yeah it's hard but I am a missionary, a disciple, look at how far I have come. I can do this work, this is who I am. What I came here to do. Again, like Peter I do not believe I would do such a thing. Yet here I was... on the inside and clearly all over my face, denying to do the work. When the time comes I don't open my mouth. I don;t want to move my feet, Yet if I do, it is all with the wrong motives or intentions, I truly felt so out of control of my emotions. I couldn't believe that I would ever get to such a low point. Christ said it would be hard, but how hard, this hard I did not imagine. To be pushed to such lengths, feelings so lost, weak, inadequate, but closer to heaven than ever before. That next morning I was studying the life of Peter. He was a fisherman, called and chosen to become a disciple and apostle, later a prophet. He had weaknesses, they were not sins. He was continually in a refiners fire. He was the very person and his testimony that the Lord used to build his church. Is that not what I am doing? Or trying to do? I realized that I am the ultimate and golden investigator here. Everything happens for a reason. I feel like everything is out of control and I am falling apart. But that simply means that the Lord is in control and I need to trust him. I am not failing because I am hurting. I am not failing because I feel lost. I am not failing because I am struggling. I am not failing. I am like Peter, I am no longer a fisherman. Thanks to sisters conference and the beautiful experience it was, I was reminded that of Heavenly Father's love for me. He knows us so perfectly. Never Give Up Sometimes progress in spiritual things can seem slow or intermittent. Sometimes we may feel that we have lost ground, that we have made mistakes, or that our best efforts to find the Savior are not working. If you feel this way, please do not give up—ever. Go right on believing in Him and in His gospel and His Church. Align your actions with that belief. In those moments when the light of your faith has dimmed, let your hope for the Savior’s love and grace, found in His gospel and His Church, overcome your doubt. I promise that He stands ready to receive you. Over time you will come to see that you have made the best choice you could possibly have made. Your courageous decision to believe in Him will bless you immeasurably and forever. - L. Whitney Clayton He is not waiting to love you until you have overcome your weaknesses and bad habits. He loves you today with a full understanding of your struggles. He is aware that you reach up to Him in heartfelt and hopeful prayer. He knows of the times you have held onto the fading light and believed—even in the midst of growing darkness. He knows of your sufferings. He knows of your remorse for the times you have fallen short or failed. And still He loves you. And God knows of your successes; though they may seem small to you, He acknowledges and cherishes each one of them. He loves you for extending yourself to others. He loves you for reaching out and helping others bear their heavy burdens—even when you are struggling with your own. He knows everything about you. He sees you clearly—He knows you as you really are. And He loves you—today and always! -Dieter F. Uchtdorf I love you guys. Thanks for the support. Hold on to that fading light and know that the Almighty King knows you by name and sees everything you are doing and striving to achieve! -- Zuster Young
Monday, September 21, 2015
Good morning everyone! Well this last week we went on two exchanges and then I got sick and ended up going on a third exchange... I got to work with Zr. Stewart-Chester, Zr. Johanson and then Zr. Faa because we were sick. I got to work in Antwerpen and I just love that place. Unfortunately I do not have much to say this week. I just want to share a poem and my testimony, along with pictures. A Mission A mission is a strange experience it's a trial, a test. A mission throws at you the worst yet it teaches you the best. I've never felt so happy I've never been so depressed. I've never felt so forsaken I've never been so blessed. I've never been so confused things have never been so clear. I've never felt my Heavenly Father so distant he's never been so near. I've never been so discouraged I've never been so full of hope. I feel like I could go on forever I think I have come to the end of my rope. I've never had it so easy I've never had it quite so tough Things have never been so smooth things have never been so rough I've never traveled through so many valleys I've never descended so many peaks I've never met so many nice people I've never met so many freaks! I've never had so many ups I've never had so many downs I've never had so many smiles I've never worn so many frowns I've never been so lonely I've never had so many friends Boy! I hope this is over soon. Gosh! I hope it never ends. Dames en Heren, you are not alone. There is a Heavenly Father who is watching over you. I have never been so confident in the love of the savior, Jesus Christ. He knows us and everything we experience. I have handed in my jersey for a name tag. I have put my whole being, every ounce of who I am on the altar and I am out in the middle of Belgium. The Lord has accepted everything I have given him, no matter how small or even how big. You are never forgotten. I am out here doing a something so much bigger than me. I am still here because of the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Thanks to him, I am becoming someone stronger, better, wiser and clearly someone I always hoped I could be, never thought possible but it is possible. Nothing is impossible, don't sell yourself short. You are a child of God. I am a child of God, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. Everything I am and becoming, I do in his name. I know this gospel is true. That I promise you and testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. I love you all. Thank you for your constant love and support. Have a great week! -- Zuster Young P.S. I successfully made bread!!
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Goed morgen! In all honesty I have no idea where to begin about this week. This was week went by so very fast and a million things happened! I can not believe that it is the 4th week of this transfer and that its the middle of September! Time is flying. Confession: This week started out so strong and I will explain why in just a second, but by the end of yesterday I have never been so trunky! How terrible is that? Don't worry it is like a cold/flu, there is a cure. And that cure is... We gonna need more cowbell! But nah this week started out great. We went to Brugge last Monday and what a beautiful place! So just a heads up about the pictures overload! We went crazy! Beligum just feels like you're walking in the past, or a movie scene. Absolutely breath taking. Highlight of the week: Exchanges in Antwerpen with Zr. Faa!! We went to Familie Schiltz for dinner (they are the missionaries set Sunday night dinner appointment). I walked through the door and the beautiful and special Zr. Schiltz walked up and gave me a huge hug. It was like a mini homecoming! As we went out and worked it felt like home, completely normal to be there. So many missionaries talk about how weird it is to be back in a former city, having a feeling that it isn't theirs anymore. Yet I had just the opposite, it felt completely normal. Faa and I were walking in Berchem and I stopped this woman. Her name is Naomi from Iraq. She has been living here for 2 years, has been going to church with her Catholic friends and praying constantly. We were talking for a bit, yet she seemed to be in a rush. She did ask questions about the differences in our church and how we pray. She asked us to pray for her, and tried to leave but Faa asked if we could pray with her right there. Naomi was so taken back but agreed. In the middle of Berchem, 3 women stood and prayed. It was a beautiful moment and the spirit so strong, Naomi was led to tears. I couldn't help but smile. We are told to look for "The One" while we are on our mission. Not to worry about the numbers. Yet I feel like we sometimes are so focused on finding "The One" that we aren't seeing that one person each day who is looking. And on Tuesday "The One" was Naomi. I don't know about you, but I feel like we fulfilled our purpose-On September 8th we found the one, a lost and scared sheep and we helped her find her way, even if for a small moment. How amazing. If we just look up, we can find the one everyday. As we finally returned to the Apartment, that was a weird experience! haha When I walked into the apartment I hit a wall of emotions. I just walked into my greenie spot a new person. A completely different person than when I first walked through those doors 10ish months ago. If only I could describe how special that moment was. I am thankful for my time in Antwerpen because there were so many answers to prayers and miracles. We went and saw Agnes! Oh how I love this woman! As she opened the door and I popped out she just did her little African shout and dance and hugged me!! She bought be the most beautiful fabric to make an African dress but I think I will use it to make a blanket. My heart was melting to see her so happy. She has not lost her glow from her baptism. The entire time we were there she just testified of how the this gospel is true. How much happiness she has found. She knows without a shadow of doubt that she is a child of God. She continued to call Zr. Jones and I her angels because we never gave up on her. I was a hot mess of tears! Because of us, she was brought to feel a greater and deeper love: "I know my papa loves me but you love me SOOO much more. And I know God loves me too!" Was absolutely incredible to see her so happy and full of the light of Christ. I have seen one woman come unto Christ. As I sat in her home I felt the words of D&C 18:10,15 "10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; 15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! Okay now another piece of what the biggest thing I learned and experienced during this exchange. Wednesday morning during studies I read a little children's book titled "The Littlest Angel" it was a beautiful book. Made me think and ponder about me and my mission. Sometimes I feel like I am just a little missionary, in a little country. I've got a nametag that is too big for me to wear, with more power than I can fit to have. In the book, the littlest angel gives a tiny gift to Heavenly Father, in his eyes it was small and maybe worthless to Heavenly Father. But it was the littlest angel's most prized possession. As Heavenly Father looked at the other gifts he actually picked the Littlest Angel's gift and realized its significance and accepted it. That gift became the Star of Bethlehem on the night Christ was born. So I was thinking and I may just very well be a little missionary but I think of what I left behind to come here. I sacrificed my devotion to soccer, school and my family. I want to share with you another point, something that it talks about in my patriarchal blessing. I have been studying it and trying to feel just a smidge of the person I was before I came here. To feel an ounce of the faith, strength and courage I had as I sat with my Heavenly Father as we discussed my life and I so willingly accepted everything. I signed up for this. I signed up to be a servant of the Lord, to be His disciple, to come here and serve. I did not sign up to become a professional soccer player. I look at what I am doing. I am in Belgium as a servant of the Lord. My gift sometimes, I feel is so small, maybe even worthless. But Heavenly Father accepts my gift. This is my gift: I have sacrificed leaving my life behind to come here and live the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ. I left soccer behind. My gift is giving 100% to the Lord. By giving all my emotion, mental, spiritual and physical strength to Him. I no longer have my soccer body, I can't run the same speed or distance I could before. I wake up in the morning feeling like an 80 year old man, hearing things cracking, aching. I feel like things are out of control and well they are out of my control. This is how I know that I am giving everything to the Lord and he is accepting my gift. Simply because everything is in His hands, he is in control. I know I am being taken care of. Monday night I was kneeling down in prayer, the longest prayer of my mission. I was in tears, asking for help and guidance. Feeling like that small missionary just struggling, wanting to go running and keep running. Now I asked Heavenly Father if this is what Christ felt like in the Garden of Gethsemane? If so, he had an angel come to him. Where is my angel? The thing I heard in my head, was "You are my angel. You are my daughter. There are countless angels round you. But don't you see the angel that is YOU?" Heavenly Father knows us and he has a plan for us. I have no idea what he has in store, but my life is not in my control right now. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I am giving my life day in and day out. I am here to do the very things Christ would do if he were here. Our calling is more than find teach and baptize. We are here to mourn with those that mourn. Comfort those that need comfort. Bring happiness and light. We go to them as Christ would. I know there are still challenges ahead and I have much more to give. But it is comforting to know that as we lose ourself in the work of the Lord, he has us safe in his hands. As hard as this is, I have no regrets of being here. How can I? I feel Heaven here. Thank you for your love and support. Shout out to Jamie Martin for the letter this week, I love and miss the New Bern Young Women! I encourage you all to get on your knees and pray to Heavenly Father and simply talk to him as a friend. He loves you and is always reaching out you. Now I am going to play soccer with the zone! Doei! P.S. I Need Lauren Brown's info!!! -- Zuster Young