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 everyone...how strange that seems. I know all departing missionaries say it seems unreal, but really...it'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

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lots of pictures

shotgun baptism and killing off companions in Antwerpen

Surprise: Anne-Marie van Winckel was baptized yesterday!!! I know, I know...the planned date was 14 December but we went kinda shot gun baptism here. :) It all came about something like this: We showed up for our appointment on Friday night and Anne-Marie announced upon our arrival that she had gotten the job she applied for at the fietshaven and would therefore be working by then. "So, Zusters, we'll have to make it earlier..." Of course we were ecstatic and started proposing 27 November as a nice day, but since she knows everything and hasn't missed a beat, and she didn't want to make it a big to-do, we all came to the conclusion that we would mak e it for Sunday. :) And for all the right reasons, she agreed there was no more reason to set it out.
We planned the whole thing in two days and it went down beautifully. Anne-Marie was beaming and twirling around and singing in her white, flowing baptismal gown. The service itself was extremely interactive and, because it's Anne-Marie, full of good humor. We missionaries sang "The Olive Tree" for a musical number. I love my go
od friend, "Anne-Mie." I am so grateful I got to have been a part of the teaching process and be present to witness her baptism through Br. Nuyens (who received revelation at general conference that she would be baptized before the year was out hahaha) and the warm interaction between her and Christine, her bosom friend who introduced her to the gospel just 2.5 months ago.
After the ordinance, Anne-Marie stood and bore her testimony and I've never been so engulfed by the spirit of furthering the work. She stood and shared her conversion with perfect poise and ability and the most beautiful part cannot even be adequately shared in words, but I know I'll never forget it.
Love this work.

Exciting: I am ending my mission in Antwerpen with Zuster de Groot. juist.

Monday, November 1, 2010

special Zusters' training

You’ll never guess what I’m doing right now. I’m at the mission home surrounded by every Zuster in the mission watching season 2 of the district (it's about as close to the office as you can get here. It’s so totally awesome) It's pretty amazing. We've had a day of sister training here in Brussels and are continuing tomorrow in Brussels and Mechelen. I love my mission.

Beyond being a total blast with the girls, it’s been a great training and I’m feeling really excited about using these honed skills the last seven weeks. Looking around the room and seeing all these beautiful Zusters in all the phases of the mission. I remember being Zuster Ence and Perry in the first transfer. Skipping that phase, I remember tackling my second city in my 5th and 6th transfers like Zusters Holbein, Pierson. And seeing Zuster Robbins and Driggs preparing for takeoff in 10 days...wow. This life as a missionary is the greatest thing on earth besides the gospel itself.

This past week Zuster De Groot and I have had the AMAZING opportunity to train our newest Zuster, Zuster Kremer who arrived 2 weeks early from the MTC. She. Is. Fabulous. Not only does she talk like Keira Knightly but she is laughter, testimony, and poise. I don't want to turn her over to her real trainer and greenie city - she's so fantastic for the city and ward of Antwerpen. Her greenie faith has put me in my place several times...and gotten us several young male phone stalkers....hahahaha. harmless and hilarious. oh, to be a Zuster.

Because I wrote two days ago, nothing new has happened worthy of a paragraph, but I am excited to tell you about Nico next Monday. We, the Zusters of Antwerpen, are sharing him with the Elders of Breda and he's getting to baptism the 5th of December. I’m exercising all my faith in that one - submissive, child-like faith.

I can't leave out the incredible news that Beatrix Werner got baptized in Rotterdam 16 Oktober. She was my first appointment the day that I transferred to Rotterdam. She's from Germany, a former member who decided to come back to the fold. It was a long journey and she made it through triumphant. I learned so much from teaching her those months in Rotterdam with Zuster Hamblin. She has such righteous desires and she's focused on the goal. To be there would've been incredible, but not being present doesn't make it any less of a beautiful experience of the mission.

It's not about us. It's about 1) the savior and 2) the people. and as long as they link up, we've done our job.

I love you all so indescribably.
Zuster fritz

Saturday, October 30, 2010

star of the week: Anne-Marie van Winckel

Here's the haps with our friends:
Liliane is going completely strong; reading night and day, giddy about her baptism every time we see her. Only thing is, we don't know when that will happen. We’re waiting on the softened heart of her opposing daughter. That’s not getting her down, though. We are planning like it'll happen any day and praying like mad.

Anne-Marie set her own baptismal date for 14 December, which happens to be her birthday. She’s got all the fine details worked out. She knows the gospel inside and out so we feel a bit useless when we go to teach the lessons. More supervising than teaching, really. I wish all investigators were member referrals. :) This woman has a heart of gold and is completely set on doing everything asked of her and then some. She gets the ABCD (above, beyond call of duty) award.

Fernand is a new friend whom we found in a park in Hoboken. He meandered over to us, his 70+ year old legs clad in a vintage suit, and when we approached him and told him we talk to people about religion, he looked around the leafy path and motioned to a bench. We sat there for 80 minutes teaching about the restoration. Our follow up appointment was brilliant - he has read dozens of pages from the Book of Mormon and received an answer to his prayer that it's true. He’s currently on holiday with his wife but we are expecting a terrific appointment on Wednesday.

Willy is from the Congo and Zuster Holbein and I met him as he was walking down the street op Linkeroever (very far from where he lives). We had a brief interaction in Dutch in which we explained that we share the Book of Mormon. He expressed interest in a French copy and we set up an appointment to deliver it. That and several more appointments fell through but Zuster Van Wauwe, our ward missionary and friend loves her brothers and sisters from her native Congo and encouraged us to keep trying. She accompanied us to our first lesson where we learned that Willy does not speak nor understand Dutch. Confusion and awe followed because we truly carried on a whole conversation with him that first day and we were speaking Dutch. Well, he has read through Alma in the Book of Mormon after several appointments and asked to be baptized into the church he's been looking for all his life. A sweet experience.

Nico is just one more miracle that will have to wait until Monday when I can give his conversion justice. But in the meantime, attend and enjoy church and I love you all.

veel liefs,
Zuster Fritz

Monday, October 18, 2010

the good and the best things

I have no idea how to put any of the miraculous and incredible things into words and I just feel silly trying. I serve in the best mission with the best missionaries, among the best members, teaching the best people. It probably becomes cliché to read my letters every week because the only thing I can do is rave about all the "good" and "best" things. Now, I remember a certain lady in my life who hated positive Christmas letters and demanded to know the negative. I just feel sorry for this woman's existence because focusing on the negative is so ridiculous. Really though, there are a million things I could focus on - I could type for hours about the rude and obscene things that people have said to me in 16 months, I could rant about my frustrations with people who don't commit to the most important thing on earth due to either lack of understanding or lack of desire. and then there's the constant tiredness I feel. It never goes away. Neither does the weather. There's just no need to even mention these things, even to myself. And it's definitely a battle, choosing to disregard something that truly makes its presence known, but the gospel of Jesus Christ is the POWER to do it. I finished my study of the Doctrine and Covenants this week and while reading about Joseph Smith's history, I was so impressed with his attitude: as for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me...nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in...and I feel like Paul, to glory in tribulation." -Doctrine and Covenants 127

That's the gospel message. Liliane is suffering health problems, Juliette's son is dying of cancer, and Ethel is looking for a job. And while they are all very difficult trials for them, eternal perspective in the plan of salvation that our loving Heavenly Father has created for us is the only way to make it sanely through. :)

I love sharing that with others. So. much.

and love you all,
Zuster Fritz

l'automne in Belgique

What else could you expect than a week of miracles? First of all, I have the most sensational companion ever: Zuster Amber de Groot and I have never laughed so much in my life - the mission is such a riot, I love it. We do and give our best to enjoy every aspect of the work and there really is nothing better than what's happening here in Antwerpen. We had 9 new investigators this week which is fantastic and our regulars are going so strong. It's now been several months teaching them and though they are completely ready for baptism, it's all working in the Lord's timing, which for a missionary is sometimes ridiculously long. Hahahaha. Liliane and Juliette and Anne-Marie are all completely elect and prepared and it is such a privilege to teach them and witness their faith in action. Each one of these ladies is SO involved in the scriptures and everything else that teaches them the principles of the gospel. I love them ridiculously much.

We are still teaching Florence Mensah from Ghana and her whole family and it's incredible - the lessons are full of hallelujahs and really good questions. Man, I love that family. Joseph came with us on joint
teach and it blows my mind that it was only four months ago that we introduced him to the Book of Mormon. Now he's got the priesthood and teaching and inviting people to the gospel like crazy. He is a marvel to behold and leaving to England in a few short weeks. I know he'll endure to the end no matter where in the world he finds himself.

I love this fall weather that is
descending upon us in Belgium. Best time to go finding on the streets. :)

love you all

Whoa, ok so I loved conference and got a lot of inspiration about what I can do to finish strong and restart my life again at home.

Ok, down to business here - I love love love Zuster De Groot. We spent the beginning of p-day cleaning and I mean really cleaning! We then shopped and cooked lunch together and we are heading out for a day on the town in Antwerpen with our favorite member, Katie from Canada and her new husband.

Joseph Mendy is moving back to England in just a few short weeks and Antwerpen will not be the same without him but what a testimony that he needed to find the gospel here and now. I am so grateful to be a part of it.

I hope you all are watching and sharing the Mormon messages on lds.org and youtube.com. These are incredible.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Zuster de Groot to come to Antwerpen!

Transfer calls came today and as expected, Zuster Holbein is leaving me. :( I have enjoyed every crazy minute we've had together but I'm excited for her to get out of her greenie area and stretch her wings in the best city in the world: AMSTERDAM! I've asked her several times to take me with her but she's already got more luggage than she can handle.

However, I am beyond words in my excitement about my new companion: Zuster Amber de Groot. FYI: she and I are already friends from my BYU ward at Park Place! I always told her before I left that I'd go convert her Dutch ancestors. And now she's here to help me haha. She is beyond cool and I never thought I would be lucky enough to serve with her. But God is a God of miracles, dat zeker.

Last Saturday’s pday was spent in Brussels with missionaries and members
- awesome. Neat to visit another mission's city and eat delicious frites, waffles, and chocolate...too much salt, sugar and money after a while. :)

It's been a full week and I can't possibly describe it. I wish that you could just be here to experience it all with me. *sigh* But until then, enjoy the fall and I'll see you at Christmas. Love you all tremendously. ENDURE TO THE END!

love love love you,
-Zuster Fritz

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The voice you must learn to heed is the voice of the Spirit

Hello dear friends,

Zuster Holbein and I have been weighed down this week as we've seen the destructive voices and practices of the world influencing those we contact, teach, and love. Nobody can reach out for the truth restored without opposition; it is truly those that fight that reach what we call "the tree of life." My heart longs for everyone to understand what the spirit is, how it feels. It must be learned. And after days of this pressing upon my mind, a tender mercy came to fill my heart with hope in place of discouragement. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPbDZnrxBLM. Please watch it. And as you do, think of the channels upon which we spend the majority of our time. And which channels upon which we should spend the majority of our time.

I love my mission. Love what it teaches me through principle and example of what I am and capable of becoming. And the way that we can come to that realization is through listening to the voice of the spirit. I am so grateful for that gift and will do my best to always be worthy of that.

I pray the same for all of you. I love you, think of you, and pray for you.

al mijn liefde,
Zuster Fritz

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

mission conference with Elder Ballard

We had powerful men and women called of God among us this week. Elder M. Russell Ballard and his wife, Elder Rasband, Elder Caussé and his wife, Bishop Edgely and his wife, Elder Teixeira and his wife all came to our mission to address us and what on earth can you say after such experiences? Nothing quite suffices. I shall simply say that I know that the priesthood power and authority of God has been restored to the earth through the ministering of angels to our beloved prophet, Joseph Smith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the power of God unto salvation and the Book of Mormon will bear the truth of that unto us through the power of the Holy Ghost. That is my message and that is why I am here in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Our wonderful investigators are going strong and I am so grateful every morning to prepare to teach them. There is nothing better than being a missionary and seeing these people read from the Book of Mormon to find answers to their greatest questions. Liliane loves reading from the Book of Mormon and this past Tuesday when we asked how she felt while reading it, she responded, "Ik lees mijn eigen gedachten, eigenlijk." (It's like reading my own thoughts, actually) I've never heard anything more beautiful.
The church is true, the book is blue!

love you all,
Zuster Jillian Fritz

Monday, September 6, 2010

the day of all things good

Dearest ones,
Last Monday we went on an excursion to Brugge, Belgium and it was lovely. I highly recommend a day out in this charming little city. Here are some photos of our getaway to this romantic destination. :)
But on to business, Zuster Holbein and I are SUPER excited to be teaching SEVEN people who want to get baptized next month. Liliane, Juliette and Hendrik (of Belgium) and Sarah, Stella, Florence and Samuel (of Ghana).

Wednesday was a beautiful day; Zuster Holbein and I call it our perfect day as we managed to have all of the following in just 10 hours:
*a member-present lesson with an older man, Emiel, a headquarter referral who requested the Book of Mormon several days after we had given him a pass along card on his door
*set a baptismal date for 16 Oktober for Nico, a man we had found in a consecrated hour (he actually belongs to Breda)
*taught our recently baptized Joseph one of the new member lessons

*contacted Eddy, a member referral and invited him to church
*found and taught Emy from Kenya in our consecrated hour
; he became a new investigator
*contacted Veronica, a long-time inactive member from Ecuador on the street and arranged for her to meet with the missionaries in her area
*a lesson with our Juliette and Hendrik, who have received a confirmation that the gospel has been restored through Joseph Smith

It just doesn't get much better than that. Zuster Holbein and I come home every night absolutely beat, but feeling like we could fly. We love being the Lord's missionaries in Antwerpen, Belgium. (cheesy as that completely sounds, it's very true)
And speaking of Zuster Holbein, I just want to emphasize that she is a miracle that makes all the others happen. I love serving with her - how lucky to get stuck with an absolute doll of a companion for three transfers? My mission is unforgettable for so many reasons, but so many of those reasons happen here in Antwerpen.

I wish I had more time to write about two of my new favorite people, Nico and Arjan. I have them written in my journal, which I guess is the important thing, but oh how much I want to share their beautiful stories with you. Can't wait to tell you all about these precious people when I get home.

Thanks for your all your sweet, sweet loving.
-Zuster Fritz