Sunday, April 3, 2011

finally home

looking back

I am home. And what an adventure that was. December 17, the day that I was to depart from my mission, a series of unfortunate events occurred, preventing me from leaving Belgium on the anticipated date. Inclement weather, security barriers and miscommunication, and several other factors contributed to make the transfer quite a fiasco. While stranded in the Brussels train station, I stayed with the bags while Elder Cox tried to borrow a phone from the many passers-by to call the assistants. After quite a while, someone showed compassion and it was in the surprise of securing a phone that I failed to keep my eyes on my baggage. In a matter of seconds, I turned around to find my shoulder bag gone. Inside the shoulder bag was my wallet and passport, mission journals, letters, camera and photos - everything of the most worth. I was frantic, but also felt an unexpected calm.

Without a wallet and passport, I knew that I would not be flying home the next morning. With an extremely heavy heart, I finally made it to the mission home with the rest of the departing missionaries as we held our devotional. Despite the despair I felt, it was a spiritual hour for me and I was greatly comforted by the spirit.The next morning, we traveled to the airport, but only a few missionaries' flights were departing that morning - the rest had to remain back with me due to extreme snowstorms. We spent the week together while they waited for flights and I for my passport. This week served little purpose in missionary work outside of teaching me patience.

I secured an emergency passport from the embassy and arrived home on Christmas Eve. The bag was never found but I pray every day that it was not in vain. I truly was taught through this experience that although the Lord loves us and guides us, important - even sacred - things are allowed to be lost. Bad things happen to good people, as I explained to so many people throughout the course of my mission. But in the grand scheme of things, it is not the physical that matters, but the spiritual.

" the revelation of Jesus Christ, wherein it is granted that whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Or, in other words, taking a different view of the translation, whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven..." -Doctrine and Covenants 128:8

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

last one, best one

Last week, best week.

Charles Ahenkona was baptized yesterday after church. So was Richard Amoah. Teaching Charles with Zuster de Groot these past weeks has been a treat and I've learned so much about the power of repentance and forgiveness from him. He is a "champion breed" as Joseph Mendy would say. Charles anticipated his baptism so much and when he finally came up out of the water, he threw his fists in the air and jubilated, "I did it!!" It was marvelous. We afterward celebrated African style and I couldn't have imagined a better way to go out of Antwerpen ward. I was rejoicing.

My lovely ones, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation. Joseph Smith was the one to coordinate its return through divine guidance. The Book of Mormon assures us of this truth. God is our Father, the great designer of the plan of salvation, the purpose of our existence. Jesus Christ stands as savior, redeemer, and mediator. How real and immense is His atonement. I feel His love for these people, these precious souls I am privileged to know.This next Sunday Charles will receive the Holy Ghost and I will be already back in Utah with strange that seems. I know all departing missionaries say it seems unreal, but's unreal. I of course am excited - how could I not be? I can't wait to see everyone again and get back on my former track. It'll take some adjustment, but there's no call to not love it.
Friends, there's just too much to say. This is my last time writing as a missionary here. I cannot even begin to express my thanks to my Father in Heaven for calling me to this. To these people. At this time.

Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy. -DC 128:19

Love you all eternally and until we meet again, God be with you.
-zuster jillian claire fritz
ps - the photos are from the Christmas concert we held in Kortrijk after our zone conference. It was sensational.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Marijke endowed

I remember meeting Marijke for the first time. I had just arrived in Amsterdam on 16 September 2009 after two long days of travel and leaving everything familiar behind. My trainer Zuster Fowler, picked me up from the train station and escorted me and the suitcases to our Bijlmer apartment, where she immediately informed me that we were walking right back out the door straight away to our appointment at the church with our baptismal date, Marijke. I not only felt extremely tired, but overwhelmed with Dutch, inadequate to fill the former Zuster's shoes, and nervous about teaching a principle I had never practiced in the MTC to a person I had never before met.
Well, the rest is history. Zuster Fowler and I taught Marijke the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and committed her to making significant changes in her life. She did and continued on the gospel path of church activity and sensitivity to the spirit and over the course of my mission, I have been privileged to witness her progression. Just before I left for Rotterdam, Marijke completed the work for her late husband.

On Saturday, Marijke was able to go to the temple to receive the endowment for herself and afterward be sealed to her husband for all eternity. I've never witnessed something so sacredly special. Her words in the celestial room when I asked her how she felt: "het is niet te beschrijven." And it really is beyond description. Probably one of the most memorable experiences of my mission; something I plan on sharing with you when I come home.
This is what the work is all about - looking beyond the baptismal font and to the altars of the temple where families can be bound together forever. Zalig.

I love you. This week is spiced up with Christmas concerts, zone conference, day-trips to Brugge, baptisms and goodbyes. Last week, best week.

CHARLES AHENKONA is getting baptized Sunday. What a treat.

Love you all muchly,
Zuster Fritz

Monday, November 29, 2010

letter for Tori

I believe that the church purposefully places missionary preparation days on Monday because that's the day immediately following the high point of the week (Sundays at church) so that our emails are uplifting and cheerful. Because, crowd, to be completely honest, if p-day was on Thursday, you would've gotten quite a depressing email. This past week was pretty rough. Full of loud people filling my world with personal and negative remarks, filling me with feelings and resentment and I suppose it was all just an exercise in developing charity and patience, but the natural man in me took it pretty unhappily. Of course it's nothing out of the ordinary; this is life. But how I handled it as a missionary was something that I hope to remember to do in the future when similar encounters come my way. There's something about the nametag...

I got a letter from my niece, Tori, this week about the challenges of being a teenager. My initial thought was, "Oh, to be a 14 year old again and have THOSE challenges instead of mine." But, Tori, don't take that as me disregarding your difficulties. Take that as "You will get through this and more than that, you will understand and appreciate its significance. Someday.” I remember going through similar feelings and situations. And while at the time it seemed so big and ruling and now at 22 going on 23 it doesn't, I realize that it was crucial in the steps that brought me here. Your letter mentioned the words of that song, by Billy Joel: "Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes, well I guess it's time for goodbye again." :) With only 19 days remaining of the 521 I started with on my mission, I am starting to feel this urgency to solidify these relationships I have created and fostered for the past 18 months. Most of the relationships have been profoundly sweet and rewarding and my heart aches to think of leaving them behind. I am promising to stay in contact always and pray for them daily; however, I know that like many of the friendships I've begun in my life, some of these too will slowly dwindle into lost contact or a fond and distant memory. I resent that. But so is life. On this earth, in any case.

That's the beauty of the plan of happiness. It's not just about here and now, but eternity. I am sealed to my parents along with my siblings and likewise will someday be sealed to my own husband and children. And these relationships will last forever. But the plan of happiness isn't limited to just flesh and blood relations. I firmly believe and know that it extends further. My favorite scripture in the doctrine and covenants in found in section 130, verse 2. It reads:
"And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy."
To that joy I am looking forward and cannot wait to be reunited with every person who has ever affected or sweetened my life. I know it'll come. And I know that it'll be exalted.

I love you and am so glad you're my niece forever. And that the beautiful things in this life are everlasting. Big hugs and kisses from over here and can't wait to get them from you over there. Soon!
All my love,
Zuster Fritz

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving, phone calling, and church touring

This week is Thanksgiving and like the last three years, I am spending it here on the European continent. My first dinner back in America will have to include stuffing and berry-mallow-yam bake. As Josh Groban's Noel CD is on the approved music list in this mission, Zuster De Groot and I have spent many hours singing his words to each other, "there's so much to be thankful for." Indeed. I have never been more poor in my life and never been so happily content. I’ve made a list throughout the past few days of the things in my life for which I am grateful and besides food and clothes and my iPod, most of the items aren't tangible. I love my mission more than words can express and I don't think I’ll ever adequately be able to understand how merciful the Lord has been in placing me in this calling. I love who I am becoming and feel so humbled by the progress. I didn't experience a grand change of heart or character like Alma the Younger, but I feel as if my motives and desires have been purified and refined and I am definitely going to get 100% visiting teaching for the rest of my able life. :)

Our mission has undertaken a grand challenge this week and that is to contact every former investigator who once had a baptismal date planned and invite them again to get back on track. What a shower of miracles we've seen. Seeds were planted and now several are ready to harvest. Lovely. I love this work - have I said that enough? I cannot say the smallest part that I feel. :)

Charles is so content and loving the gospel message. Our appointments this week have been incredible as he's been one step ahead of us every time, giving himself every commitment and keeping it beautifully. His change of heart and determination to keep it so is exquisite. He'll be getting baptized on the 12th of December with Richard, another brother from Ghana that the elders have been teaching. It'll be a party. We may have to break out the African dresses again. :)

As for Liliane, our pleadings to the Lord have been heard. Her daughter, Chantal, has somewhat softened and Liliane will be coming to church next Sunday. I couldn't imagine anything to make me happier.

Juliette and Hendrik's son, Rudy, passed away last weekend after a short but brutal battle with cancer. It was a peaceful experience to visit them again at last and teach them again about the plan of salvation. Nothing is more comforting than to know that plan - how simple and jo
yful it truly is. They still need some time to readjust, but this experience, though tremendously difficult, has only increased Juliette’s relationship with her Savior and testimony of His atonement.

We had a church tour with Willy this past week and our angel, Zr. Van Wauwe, accompanied and translated. What a wonderful hour that was, to showcase the building in its beautiful simplicity and end in the chapel. The spirit was present and calming and Willy felt as if he had come home - a welcome feeling to have in foreign Belgium.

guys, I love you….all of you.

-Zuster Fritz

Monday, November 15, 2010

even terug in Rotterdam

Anne-Mie was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints yesterday in sacrament meeting (and our miracle, Charles, was there to witness it.) After the ordinance, she went backto her seat with the biggest smile and said to us all, "da's warm!" it was lovely. This woman is my Antwerpen. Charles came out of nowhere, so we think he came from heaven. Completely prepared to be baptized. We only met him on Monday at Christina's home (a member friend of his) and have since had four lessons with him and he's through 1st Nephi, and already placing himself in his shoes. I tell you, the role of Lehi's dream in the investigator's progress is key and powerful. "I love Jesus and I think I should do something about it." He came to church yesterday and felt completely at home. Wijk Antwerpen is incredible. They step up to every task and are so filled with the spirit and fire of missionary work.This place is every missionary's dream. My heart is here....and several other places. :)

I got to go back to Rotterdam this Thursday to take care of legality. I signed out of Holland and won't be coming back...crazy. Where on earth did the time go?! It was like coming home to cross the borderagain into the Netherlands. I love that country and those people, just as I do Belgium. How many missionaries get that chance? Not all and I consider it a blessing to have come to be a part of both.We gotta run to Groenplaats now to teach our Nico. He's getting baptized binnen kort.

Love you all ridiculously much