Monday, August 30, 2010

Juliette en Hendrik Schiettekatte

Hello lovelies,

The first week of transfer #3 in Antwerpen is finished and we've got five investigators with a baptismal date and an additional handful that are making awesome progress in their conversion process. It truly IS a process that requires careful planning, effective commitments and absolute dedication on their part. I marvel at these people who just several months ago, even several weeks ago, had no imagination that with the acquaintance of two girls they would be altering their entire lives. This happens all over the world and it has absolutely nothing to do with the girls or boys or where they're from but everything to do with the message that they bring. That message is that Jesus Christ lives and leads his church today through a prophet. Is that not the best news to ever be found? I cannot quite capture the essence in these words but I promise that it is and I feel so privileged to be a means through which it can be accomplished.

Two of these baptismal dates we are teaching are Juliette and Hendrik, an older Belgian couple (in their 70's) referred to us by a member in the ward. He's actually their pharmacist and had given them a Book of Mormon some time ago. He asked us to follow up and see how they are. They received us warmly and treat us as granddaughters, which is absolutely adorable. As we've been teaching them about the plan of salvation, they've really come alive and its so obvious that this knowledge is what they've been searching for their whole lives together. They eagerly committed to be baptized in Oktober. Brother Nuyens, our ward mission leader, comes regularly on joint teach and they've got a good friendship going on. He teaches with so much conviction. AND we have it from a good source that Hendrik came into the pharmacy this week to ask for help to quit smoking. ;) He's been doing his research online, I suppose. Can't wait to teach the word of wisdom next week. :D

You know, I've been thinking a lot this week (I finally managed to get food poisoning from some African food so I had a bit of down time haha) and in my letters I am always so excited to share the miracles with you. As you can see, the Lord is bringing his work forward with so much power, its truly incredible. However, a mission is challenging. But it doesn't have to be hard. I learned for myself the first several months of my mission that our happiness is completely dependent upon our choices and so many of the choices that we make are not just to act but to feel. 2 Nephi 10:23-25 saved my life one December evening on the Amsterdam metro. As I read it, I had this ah-ha moment and realized that regardless of our circumstances, true happiness and peace of mind lie within our reach. Even with an exhausted body, physical illness, depression, discomfort, restrictions, inadequacy. We are free to choose. And I desire with all my heart that the people I meet and teach in Belgium and the Netherlands will choose that for themselves as well. However, my time here in the low lands is coming to a swift end and I am so hesitant to come to terms with that, but I know that what I do here doesn't have to stop with my departure. I want to continually be an instrument in his hands to bring about His work. And his entire work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. I'll repeat the words of my hero, the prophet Jospeh Smith, "Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause?"
I love you all - you know that, right?

Zuster Jillian Fritz

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

zone conference with my favorites

It’s a beautiful day in Antwerpen. The clouds are sailing at high speeds above us, alternating between puffy, white cumulonimbus and threatening gray rain clouds. I have no idea how the weather will end up at the end of the hour, but that's Belgium. The weather has been cooling down and I love this time of year just before the complete transition to fall. School starts next week and so many of our investigators find themselves swamped but this too shall pass. ;)

Zuster Holbein and I had a REALLY wonderful and successful week and we're ready for another. We've got more positive investigators than we can handle actually - how incredible is that? We are still teaching Liliane, our favorite Belgian damsel, and love when SHE calls US to confirm appointments and ask what else she can read to be prepared. Set baptismal dates for Oktober with the 19 year old twins Sarah and Stella from Ghana. Ethel from Peru and her son 12 year old son, Steven, came to church for the first time after being taught for months and do you know what that took?...ringing their doorbell at 7:20am with frosted flakes and milk to entice them out of bed, washing the dishes, and then straightening Steven's hair to make him look like his idol, Justin Bieber. :) He was thrilled. And they absolutely loved church. One of my favorite moments. I love this family with all my heart. They have made so much progress since we found them in the “formers” in the area book at the beginning of the summer. They will be baptized.

On Saturday afternoon, after painting a member's family room walls lavender, I sat on the bus across from a gorgeous girl from Brazil. She talked to me before I could even get the chance to say anything to her and asked me straight away if I was from a church. The eagerness in her voice seemed to tell me that she was an elect and how right that is - her name is Marcilene and she had prayed that morning to Heavenly Father to lead her to a church where she felt at home. She recognized us as her answer and promised to come to church the next morning. And that's not all. She brought a friend. And her friend, Jeanette, has her own copy of the Book of Mormon in Portuguese from when she investigated the church. And now is her time. We are super excited to begin teaching them - I'll keep you updated. :)

Our Joseph Mendy came on joint teach this week with us to an appointment with a
man from Jamaica named Sanka . We taught him in the same waiting area in central station where we taught Joseph and it was so incredible to see him sharing his story, asking the same follow-up questions we would ask him ("what do you understand from that scripture" etc.). Quite amusing. :) He practically extended the baptismal challenge which was unbelievably awesome. As far as Sanka goes...well that’s interesting. We hope he's stable but we'll have to see. Apparently he's on a special mission from Jesus to destroy the world so we'll take it slow. Hahahaha. I love teaching the crazies. They always manage to find us. Joseph also made us food from the smiling coast of Africa this week at his house where we reunited with Bakary - the former investigator who introduced us to Joseph. He's still very Muslim but we've got an awesome friendship and he's willing to bring us more little sheep to teach. ;)

Zone Conference was uh-mazing, great to spend time with Kim and Zuster Ekstrom before they fly away to Amerika.

Love this work. So much.

Zuster Fritz

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

the best week of my mission and the smiling coast of Africa

This week was absolutely hands down the best week of my mission. So incredible. Zone conference and the news that Zuster Holbein and I are staying in Antwerpen for another transfer: tender mercy. We have much to start & finish together.

Shall we start with Amsterdam, the city beautiful?

I truly am amazed to think that it was six months ago that I left and one year ago that I arrived. I AMsterdam.

Zone conference was a sweet experience. It was wonderful to see my favorite missionaries and to be spending the time with Zuster Ekstrom before she leaves the field. Kim came along as well which was a real treat. I remember going to zone conferences with her in mind, trying to find out ways to help her progress in the gospel and become truly converted through the spirit. To have her sitting
there next to me was a dream come true.

Now onto the really exciting news!! Joseph Mendy and Andy Thomas were baptized 14 augustus 2010. What a pleasure it was to see it happen and feel the spirit that was present. Zuster Holbein and I wore our African dresses to honor Joseph and the smiling coast of Africa (the Gambia). From our first meeting 10 juni to this day, Joseph has proved nothing but faith and diligence.

He is such an elect and I am so grateful for the privilege of having been able to share the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ with him, my brother. Zuster Holbein and I did nothing - he was already converted before we even met him. He just needed to be found. Glory be to God in the highest. Joseph will continue on in so great a cause and b
ring the gospel message further to countless souls.
It was so incredibly special to see everyone again, but mostly Marijke and Kim and to see how much their testimony has grown. To see all of Marijke's family history work spread out on trees and charts and Kim uiteindelijk in a skirt. :) So simple are these things but so precious to me. It's beyond description and far more noteworthy than any relating of the breathtaking beauty of biking along the summer canals.

Also, I played the violin duet with Elder Wood for Joseph’s baptism and stunned the congregation. :-) What if I told you I would be playing in September for when Elder M Russell Ballard comes to speak at our mission? hehehehe

love you all een hele boel.
al mijn liefde,

Monday, August 9, 2010

exchange in A'dam!

I now find myself in the most wonderful place on earth: the Amsterdam public library. :)
Zuster Holbein and I made our way up today as zuster exchanges are tomorrow and I will be working these streets again. I cannot say the smallest part of which I feel - (thrilled!!!!) I can't wait to see how things have changed and progressed; to see how I've changed and progressed since I've been here. Six months. It's been quite the ride.Our journey to Amsterdam was quite the miracle - we just barely made the 2:00 train by running and then after one stop, we were all unloaded due to mechanical problems to wait for the next train: the stop train (makes longer and more frequent stops, which can be inconvenient). However, as always, we were in the right place at the right time. We met one woman and four different men on the trains and started conversing with them. Naturally, we talked about the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ. It was truly amazing because two of these men were strangers sitting across from each other in the section behind us but heard us talking to another young man about what we're doing here in Europe and before we knew it, we had the whole train car as a captive audience as we taught about the nature of God and principles of the restoration and laws of morality. It was one of those awesome P-day moments when it just doesn't matter that you don't get your letters written or nap taken because you got to share with complete strangers what the purpose of this life actually is. Oh people, this work is truly indescribable.

It's going to be a busy,busy week and it’s going to be ended wonderfully and do you know why? BECAUSE JOSEPH IS GETTING BAPTIZED! He came to church yesterday dressed in the classiest Africa garb and sport shoes - simply love it. The members absolutely adore him and he just loves the feelings the gospel brings. Joseph was already a strong believer in "Christ Jesus" when we met him, but the change that the restored gospel has brought in him is from good to better; beautiful to beautiful-er. :) I am so grateful to have been a part in Joseph's conversion to better and on to best. He has so much energy and testimony and I tell you all now that he will do great things in building up the Lord's kingdom around the world.

I am headed now to family home evening at Lucky's and it's going to be incred...sorry if I come across as insanely happy. I just really am. :)

Brethren and Sisters, this gospel is it. Should we not devote our everything to further it?

love you all

Monday, August 2, 2010

it is real

Of course it wouldn't be typical to start my letter without expressing how merciful the Lord has been or the astonishment at the ridiculous amount of miracles that have occurred in Antwerpen this week. Both are still valid and in force and Zuster Holbein and I are basking in the wonderfulness of building up the kingdom.

Joseph is of course the star of the week and getting ready for his baptism on 14 August. He came early to church yesterday, greeted everyone with his charming mannerisms, sang along with all the hymns in Dutch, and stood to end our testimony meeting with his own witness that Jesus is the Christ and the restored gospel of this church is the power unto salvation. Much else was said, and everyone present truly felt something incredible.

This is the joy of missionary work: endeavoring to bring the gospel message to the children of men and helping them along their way until they can take it further to others. The gospel must be shared this way. No mass media message or flashy presentation could bring the spirit that a personal and powerful testimony does. It is real.Seeing Joseph be the source of testimony brought back the familiar feelings of seeing Kim and Marijke share their testimonies with others in Amsterdam. Meeting their invited friends at baptisms and sacrament meetings, taking them on joint teach and sitting back and watching them as they share their story...these are the most precious of experiences of my mission.

(And just the most exciting news, I'll be heading up to Amsterdam next week for exchanges with Zuster Cranford. Wat ben ik blij!!!!)

houd van jullie!