Monday, May 31, 2010

loving Belgium

All right, so I left "the best two years" behind me and have fallen completely in love with Belgium.... and my incredible new collega, Zuster Holbein. I think we're the same person, which may be why I love her so much. hahaha. Honestly, though, I have never met a Zuster more prepared to get out and work every day. She's got all the confidence, skill, and spunk in the world to find and teach every day with unmatched enthusiasm. (and all that after only one transfer) I love spending every moment of every day with her and learning from her. She's a fast one to keep up with. :)
This area is being harvested to our amazement. 4 Belgians baptized in one month (Heidi en Marie Therese were baptized just before I arrived - I'm SO excited to be visiting them often) and several more preparing. This work is unbelievable. I love these people already (and their beautiful Flemish). We've certainly got our work cut out for us, but have some powerful missionaries covering this area in the world.

leuk verhaal: Zuster Holbein and I went to do a consecrated hour yesterday and I got a very strong impression to knock the street of the church. The natural man in me didn’t' t want to because I don't necessarily love knocking doors, especially on a Sunday evening, and I thought I could safely assume that it had certainly been knocked by more than several missionaries before me. But still the voice in my head persuaded me. And what a miracle occurred. A few doors down from the church lives Deborah, who is an 18 year old Belgian girl that has always wondered about the church at the end of the street. She believes in God and wanted to know all about how we see him. She was completely touched by our message of a loving heavenly father and felt the spirit so strongly when we prayed with her. She's totally coming to the next jovo (young adult) activity. Love her.

I love being a missionary every day. It’s the best thing in the world. Love finding,
love teaching.

miss you all,
Zuster Fritz

Monday, May 24, 2010

Moving to Antwerpen!!

ANTWERPEN! (in Belgium)
I'm so incredibly excited; I've been wanting and praying to serve in this area many months. I feel drawn to it. I'll be serving with Zuster Holbein who will be going her second transfer. (I got to spend some time with her last month and she's a total fire cracker. Kijk uit!) Mmmmm....I have a good feeling about these next 6 weeks!
This past week has been full of everything, really. A day of everything that could go wrong (including: Desmond's "friend" in rehab pulled out all the anti-Mormon literature and convinced him that he needs to stop speaking with us. Thus, our appointment ended with reassurances of gratitude and love, but a firm decision to stick with the Bible..."but I have your number..."), spending all possible moments packing and preparing the apartment for the zone leaders (two amazing Elders, Verwey and deMeester), and going on joint teach with ZUSTER SPENCER (my MTC teacher, here on vacation, ridiculously cool).
The most triumphant news: the church building here in North opened for church yesterday! Ok, ok, maybe that doesn't mean much. We've been going to the church building in South Rotterdam for 10 months as ours was getting rennovated and it was a monstrous annoyance for everyone as the distance and cost to get there was ABSURD. But church was wonderful - I've never seen so many joyful faces. Zuster Hamblin and I taught the lesson in ZHV (relief society) and got to share our testimonies to a congregation very reluctant to see the zusters go. But I'm confident the elders will win their hearts...seriously, these new zone leaders ar
e fantastic.
It's so strange, about the change. It takes a while to hit me that in two days, my entire world will be completely different, only I'll be doing the same things every day.
The mail system in Belgium is a little less fast, but I will be able to get my letters from the mission home MUCH more often because the Assistants to the pres are in my district.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
zuster fritz

Monday, May 17, 2010

"dag" to Rotterdam

Well, this is our last week in Rotterdam. Zuster Hamblin and I are running around like crazy trying to get everything ready for the zone leaders to take over and pack up for our next cities (wherever those may be). I have very mixed feelings about leaving, but overall, I will miss this place bunches. Especially our fantastic ward members and investigators. I've come to love these people as a family (just as much as Amsterdam hehehe) and have developed so many friendships that have blessed my life. And Zuster Hamblin and I are hesitant to part...we've had a good run together, that's for sure!

Zuster Hamblin and I have been teaching the most elect and incredible man I have ever met. His name is Desmond and we met him on the way up to an appointment with our Tamia. We've had two lessons at his home and the spirit there was so lekker. However, he is now spending three weeks in a detox center in Dordrecht, so we are continuing to keep contact with and teach him over the phone. What an incredible experience that has been! He is SO hungry for the Book of Mormon -
we asked him to read a few chapters and he's half-way through Nephi. He knows that it's true, absolutely. He is so eager, so humble, so wanting to change. What a son of God. It's a privelege to teach him and learn from him. This man is getting baptized!

Thank you so much for your letters of encouragement (they've been very needed) and prayers; I can feel them. I love you all.

Zuster Fritz

Monday, May 10, 2010

Final installment

To make a long story short with the van Dalens, we drove up to the house to discover that it was actually Aty van Dalen that lived there. (!!) She is settled in Schiedam with her husband and was very eager to invite us in with the mention of Becky's name. They were actually heading out the door to a reception just then, but invited us back for a patio brunch for the next day. We left the note from Becky behind with her contact information and Aty promised to call her that evening.

The following morning, we returned for a delightful time with whom we call our new Dutch grandparents, Aty and Atze.

They are wonderful people. We absolutely adore them and have returned several times to offer our services and gezellig company. :) Aty and Becky are now back in touch and Aty feels certain that her departed father has played a role in this reunion. She saw white butterflies the morning that we showed up on her door - a significant sign of her father's presence in her life even now.

Becky's example of a faithful follower of Jesus Christ as a young teenager has made an impression that has lasted in Aty's memory for over 44 years. I find that so amazing and I'm so grateful for
the quiet way in which members of the church like Becky live their lives and keep the commandments - it's a light to so many. I'm also grateful for the way in which Becky listened to the Spirit, which led her find Aty again and continue their friendship. It reminds me of one of my favorite passages in the Doctrine and Covenants 130:2. 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.

Becky's role is not yet finished. We missionaries were but instruments to connect them again. Becky now has the opportunity to bring these our brethren again unto thee (Alma 31) through her continued love and example. You got it, Becky!

Brothers and sisters, the gospel is true. Rotterdam is receiving the light through its members. It's beautiful, simple, and pure. I'm lovin' it. And I love you all.

Zuster Fritz

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The continuing story.......

The address given for Aty van Dalen was in Delfshaven - a neighborhood where zusters are not advised to go. Thus is became marked in our map as somewhere we'd go when we get the chance.

The first chance came and the residents of Samuel Mullerplein 14A were not home. But I couldn't just walk away. I knocked the whole street, eager to find anyone who would be old and settled enough to know something over the familie van Dalen. I found no such person as all the residents where recent and very young - except for one man who vaguely remembered the name of the former owners of his neighbor's apartment. Finally a lead! With this information, we resolved to return sometime again to question 14A.

In the meantime, I felt truly driven to keep searching. Only thing was, Aty van Dalen 44 years ago was an unmarried teenager with a maiden name. Who knows what she's called now?
The thought hit me forcefully to look in the phone book under the name van Dalen. Dozens of possibilities. Several with the first initial A. I called every one of them. And when it wasn't Aty or relation, I offered the message of the restored gospel. :) It was mostly an exercise of faith because none of them, though extremely cordial and helpful, were interested. Yet I definitely felt driven to press on.

With all the van Dalen households called, there wasn't much more we could do but wait for the chance to return to Samuel Mullerplein.

When we stopped by to go again several weeks later, the current residents were home and recognized my nametag and request as the same of the zusters Owen and Stapleton from before. This time, they received more background and a request to contact their apartment owner. They readily complied. I walked away with two phone
numbers for my use. I felt absolutely triumphant.

I called the owner and he had indeed purchased the apartment from familie van Dalen. But he needed a day or two to locate their information.

A day or two later, I called him - he had succeeded! A telephone number and address - in Schiedam (a Rotteram suburb in our area). !!!!!

Zuster Hamblin and I miraculously had nowhere to be that evening and so we jumped in the car and drove to Schiedam in hopes that this van Dalen household could tell us what had become of their Aty.

And I'm sorry to make this a trilogy, folks, but my time is up. This is the Lord's work and there are two things only that are important: to love God and to love our neighbors.

al mijn liefde,