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 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