Zuster Fox?

Zuster Fox?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Morbid Dutch...

Woohoo! I've finished my first full week here in Nederland, and it was fantastic. I have lots of fun things to share from this week.
My first full day in Nederland. Can you see why I think it's a fantasy land?

First of all, I finally made my own personal hilarious language mistake, so I can share that instead of other people's! Almost everyone has littler filler thinking words that we say when our brains are working to think as fast as our mouths, right? 'Like' and 'um' are some examples. Well, there isn't anything wrong with saying 'um' (except that it sounds casual, so I'm trying to kick the habit anyway) but my trainer especially warned me to try to avoid saying 'like' when I'm speaking Dutch, because I've been doing it a lot since there's a lot to think about between the vocabulary, grammar, and message I'm actually trying to communicate! The reason it's a problem is because the Dutch word that sounds like 'like' is 'lijk' which means 'corpse.' So it's kind of morbid to just throw that around everywhere. 'And I know that Heavenly Father (corpse) loves you.' it's just awkward. But also hilarious!

Another funny story was told to us by a non-native Dutch speaker we were doing service with- She was trying to ask her father-in-law if he paid the rent, but accidentally asked if he paid the prostitute, due to the pronunciation difference between 'huur' and 'hoer' which I still have trouble hearing.
We tried to take a selfie with a pretty church building. Didn't quite get the whole thing!

So, this week has been great! I've been working a lot on developing both my missionary and Dutch skills. Under Sister Woodbury's excellent, careful coaching I had a couple of firsts this week. I approached someone for the first time on my own, which felt SO scary, but Heavenly Father definitely blessed me- the people I picked to talk to were really nice and interested in talking with us. So I learned that street contacting doesn't have to be too intimidating.

I also had the opportunity to extend a baptismal invitation to one of our investigators! I did that a lot in the MTC, but doing it in real life is so different- the Spirit was so strong!

Every day I just marvel that I get to be a missionary, that I'm not just a nineteen year old girl with a name tag, I'm an authorized representative of Jesus Christ! It's my wonderful job and opportunity to talk with people about my favorite subject in the world every day. I bike up and down the cobblestone streets and marvel that I'm living in Europe (and wonder, why on EARTH in a culture where everyone bikes are the streets made out of cobblestone?!). Anyway, it's an amazing privilege. I definitely feel my love for the Dutch people growing. The members here are fantastic, and the Church really is the same everywhere. Every time we gather together at church, or have dinner appointments, it's very gezellig- 'gezellig' is one of my favorite unique Dutch words. It means cozy, comfortable, close, loving- I can't quite describe it, but it's a great feeling.
Lots of people here have asked if I'm Dutch because of my last name. Here's proof that it's common here! It was cool to see this street sign.

Also, speaking of church, the Den Haag temple president and his wife were visiting yesterday, and last week our mission president and his wife were here- it's been an exciting couple of Sundays for this little branch!

We had a church potluck yesterday and Sister Woodbury and I made banana bread. I think Heavenly Father must have miraculously consecrated our efforts, because neither of us had every made it before but it was super lekker! (Lekker means delicious, in every sense of the word). The potluck lunch was wonderful, and afterward we delivered some of the banana bread to members in the ward experiencing a hard time or going through rough changes. I love the experience of ministering to people in need!
Uniquely Dutch things- Vla is a weird pudding dessert that you pour out of a carton. Juice is really popular. And those little gingerbread bites are a traditional Sinterklaus candy and are delicious!
My Dutch still has a long way to go but I get more comfortable and understand better every day. People are really nice and helpful when they realize that I haven't been here long at all!

The weather this past weekend was gorgeous, but we've been told it's the last warm sunny weekend of the year. We've also had some rainy days though, and I had the opportunity to bike through the rain and be quite damp at an appointment for the first time! That was fun. I learned to never leave without an umbrella!
Goedemorgen, Assen! An advantage of being a missionary is that we're Always up before Sunrise. here's the view of a particularly beautiful one from our balcony!

Anyway, it's been a great week! I love you all!

Zuster Voss

PS: Also, there are some really big spiders in Nederland. They disgust me. I'd send a picture, but I don't want to get that close.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I made it to Nederland! I don't even know where to start, everything is so amazing. I guess I'll go chronologically since my last update and fit as much in as possible! Also, I'm especially in need of your forgiveness with typos today because I'm typing quickly and this computer is trying to spell check in nederlands, so essentially every single word has a red line under it.
Arriving at Schiphol Airport! (Credit Sis Robinson for all pictures this week)

My last couple of days in the MTC were great- we said goodbye to a lot of amazing people, which was kind of sad. My teachers Broeder Klippel, Broeder Lewis, and Zuster Juchau were amazing. I wouldn't have been at all prepared to come to the Netherlands without them! We also said good bye to a lot of other wonderful friends. I'll miss everyone but it's so great to be here!

We flew to Detroit, which was relatively short, and one of the flight attendants was really sweet and announced to the whole plane what we as missionaries were going to do for the next little while and we got a round of applause! What an exciting way to begin. Then the marathon flight to the Netherlands- I think it was actually only 7-8 hours or so, and I did manage to sleep for a couple of them, but I for one still felt exhausted and travel-gross when we landed at 8:00am Netherlands time. President and Sister Robinson were waiting to meet us though so it was great to walk out into their open and waiting arms! It was a lovely sunny day and we went right into a few orientation meetings and interviews with President and Sister. Then we went out and were busy all day going to various buildings to fill out paperwork- Getting our residency to remain in the Netherlands and such, which is necessary, but not necessarily exciting. Anyway, we finally returned and got to briefly nap and freshen up before dinner, which was gourmet burgers. It's funny because the word for "citizen" in Dutch is burger, so we joked that we were American burgers eating Nederlands burgers. Haha. :)

Then we opened our in-mission calls! I'm in Assen with Sister Woodbury and couldn't be happier! We went to sleep Tuesday night excited and got to meet our trainers the next morning, and then we were off! Assen is a little city in the Northern Netherlands, kind of in the country, and I feel so blessed- I can't describe how beautiful it is. Fields, canals, an adorable little city center and tons of tiny brick houses, cobblestone streets everywhere- it's unreal. I think the Netherlands is a fantasy country, or this is a dream and I just haven't woken up. Anyway, we got to the city and dropped off my luggage in our apartment, which is is in a great location, very roomy and nice- it's snug and perfect, I'd say. Anyway, we had a couple of appointments that night that we had to get to, so I got to meet some investigators right away.
Opening 1st In-Mission call

Since then we've just been doing missionary work! Talking to everyone we see, teaching all the time, meeting with members- I love it. Some things about Nederland: the people really are taller here! Everyone! I mean, I don't feel short necessarily, but just everyone is tall and stately and fashionable. Every day is like a fashion show- even the little three year olds strut around in designer labels, it seems like. It's funny and awesome and it just feels so classy all the time. The dairy products really are amazing- as a qualified milk critic and can assure you that it's better here in both texture and taste than almost anything I've ever had before. Also, the produce is real- it isn't waxed and shined to look superficially perfect as it is in America. And the cheese is so delicious. And the bread. basically almost everything is incredible.

Everyone bikes. Everyone. Bike paths are everywhere, and bikes have the right of way all the time. It took us a day and a half to get me a bike, and it was exhausting- I don't know how walking missionaries do it. I love my bike! It's second hand, but tall and sturdy in the Dutch style and I can cruise around on it like the queen of the world. Some unique characteristics of Dutch bikes is that they all have a little platform over the back wheel, where you can buy little bags that hang on either side to carry things. They have a way to lock the back wheel so the bike can't be used, and I feel paranoid leaving my bike not chained to something else but locking the back wheel is an excellent anti-theft device- who's going to steal a bike if they have to have a steel saw to use it? No one wears helmets here. I don't know why they would, since it's so safe- I definitely believe that missionaries who wore helmets would get mocked haha. I feel fine without one.

Zuster Woodbury and I went on a little adventure to a tiny little dorp (village) called Beilin to look up a referral yesterday. She wasn't home, but there was a beautiful old church and graveyard we passed which was way cool to see- Europe is amazing. yesterday was the first day that really felt like fall, too. This whole week has been sunny and warm! I understand that that isn't usually how Nederland is though- yesterday and today have been crisp, windy, chilly, and a bit rainy. bring it on, weather! The happiness inside me can outlast any rain. And it's actually quite pleasant out right now.
Kinney's trainer Zuster Woodbury

I can't believe I forgot to bring my camera to the library to upload pictures. Twice as many next week I suppose- sorry! Also, anyone who wants my actual mailing address, feel free to email me for it- I only get letters sent to the mission home every couple of months or so.

My Dutch is an exciting adventure... Sometimes when people speak quickly I only catch a few words here and there. But most of the time I can effectively communicate. Several people, both strangers and members, have told me that my Dutch is very good already. Since the Dutch people are very sincere, frank, and straightforward, I take that as a tremendous compliment- however, I can't help wondering if secretly they just mean. "you aren't bungling this language nearly as badly as most Americans!" Anyway, I've already seen myself progressing hugely in the past few days. I listen attentively and I'm picking up a better accent as well as vocabulary. It's very exciting, but I also recognize that I have a long, long way to go!

Okay, that's all for now. I actually have some funny stories that I hope to tell when I'm not so pressed for time trying to tell everything as right now. Look for those stories and tons of pictures next week. Until then, tot ziens! I love being a missionary and I have such a testimony of the joy and necessity of this work. I'm exhilarated and so happy to be here!!!

Zuster Voss

From the Mission Blog:

Note from Sister Robinson:  We spoke in Assen Branch on September 21, 2014 and spent the morning with Sister Voss and Sister Woodbury.  It was Sister Voss' first Sunday in the land and she did a fantastic job sharing her testimony in Sacrament Meeting.  We had a 'boordjes' with them before we left.  They are doing wonderfully.
Our district with Broeder Klippel!

Twinning with a couple Danish sisters from the MTC!

Zuster Juchau with all the sisters! She is so awesome!

Our district with Broeder Lewis- he was a missionary in this mission just barely a few months ago.

Dutchies all in front of the temple one last time!

My name tag with the temple because I'm cool and creative ( actually stole this idea from someone else)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Guest Blog: Transition to the Field

Hi all, Brother Voss here. Just wanted to post a couple pictures and let everyone know that we received a note from McKinney's Mission President indicating that she has arrived safely.
The Robinson's new recruits!
Here is an excerpt from the note from Sis Robinson:
Your missionary has arrived safely and is now out in the mission field living the life of a missionary.  We met them at the Schipole Airport on Tuesday morning.  We spent the morning in interviews and paper work for their legality and finances for the duration of their time here.  The afternoon they traveled to Rijswijk to register into the country.  Later that afternoon they all had a well deserved nap.  That evening after dinner we had a short training by President Robinson and a short testimony meeting.  They opened their 'first area' letters and found out where in the mission they will be serving and who their new trainer and companion will be.  Wednesday morning the Assistants to the President trained on mission culture and mission procedures. Next, they met their new companions and President and I spent about 60 minutes training and answering any remaining questions.  Wednesday afternoon they traveled to sign into the country which completes the process for the Netherlands.  Wednesday evening they were in their assigned areas of labor and with their new companion doing missionary work.  It was only smiles and excitement as they left for the train station yesterday. 

President and I are extremely impressed with your sons and daughters.  At the MTC they have acquired a great foundation in the Dutch language and Preach My Gospel.  They are optimistic, happy, excited and come with strong testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We serve missions with faith in Christ and a great love for Him, and President and I see that in your child. Thank you for your love and support of your missionary.  Your positive and uplifting emails over the next 18 months or 2 years will be a highlight for them each week.  Your missionary will fill you in on all the details of their mission and the work they do each week in their weekly email home each Monday.  We encourage you to follow the events of the mission at belgiumnetherlandsmission.blogspot.com.  By the first of next week I should have all the pictures of this past week on the blog.  


Sister Robinson
OK, confession time. I may or may not (I did) have accidentally bumped into this group of missionaries as they were preparing to depart from the SLC airport. In fairness, I do travel extensively, but I did show up for my flight about 8 hours early... Not to worry though, I have since repented and committed to a more obedient lifestyle moving forward. Some pictures from that happy incident are posted below.


Brother Voss

"Dream Team" companionship!

This one is going on my wall. One of the happiest feelings I have had in recent memory!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bonus Travel Blog

Hallo! We are allowed to email home a bit today in order to coordinate with our families because we are leaving so shortly so I thought I'd send a brief update.
All the Dutchies before we separate.
Our room is a crazy whirlwind of packing right now as we prepare to leave. I have only a few more days left in the United States for the next year and a half! It's a mind blowing thought.
Our room during packing craziness!

On Wednesday we took a little adventure off the main campus of the MTC (it's allowed, don't worry) and got some Jamba Juice and Great Harvest. It was delicious to eat real food, exhilarating to be in the real world and wonderful to explore with friends. I can't wait to be in the real world all the time! The MTC is great but definitely functions as its own self sufficient little planet.

Off campus eating adventure
I've just been thinking how when I arrived here at the MTC, summer was in full swing, the sun was blazing and we adored staying inside. Just in the past couple of weeks however, the temperatures have noticeably cooled, the air is crisper and we are even beginning to see some leaves change. Sorry for this silly simile, but I see a connection to how my life has been shifting. I've been growing spiritually and have had so many personal insights. The MTC is great, but I'm about to go really experience my mission in the field- the seasons shift from summer to autumn, and my life is undergoing change as I prepare to live in Europe for the next 17 months or so! Change can be hard but it's also beautiful and wonderful. Just as I always look forward to fall, I can't wait to see where the next year and a half will take me! (Not literally. I already know they'll take me to Belgium and the Netherlands.)
Sister Bush had a cute bike shirt, and I had my bike skirt and bike necklace, and we just matched - it was adorable.

Anyway, I hope all is well!

Zuster Voss
Bonus massage line picture :-)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"With All Thy Getting, Get Understanding"

I only have one week left in America before I depart for 17 months! It's absolutely crazy, unbelievable, yet thrilling and exciting in every possible way to anticipate my extended stay in Europe. We got our flight plan on Friday, which was wonderful! My whole Dutchie group and I will depart on Monday morning and travel through the day and night- hopefully I'll be able to send a short email on Tuesday or Wednesday so everyone knows we arrived safely!
Travel Plans!!

It has been a great week. It was crazy to have so many new people arrive in our zone, but it's been so fun to mentor the new Swedish Sisters as a Sister Training Leader. The MTC can be a bewildering experience, so I've loved helping to guide others through the adjustment process.

We were able to skype members of the Church in the Netherlands for TRC last week, and we'll do it again tomorrow! It is seriously the coolest experience. Sister Robbins and I got to chat with a 16 year old in Rotterdam, and he was very gracious and patient with us- it was amazing how well we could understand and could be understood though! And he was actually the cousin of the Dutch Elder at the MTC who we kind of stalked at first, but actually we've talked to him more so we're friends now. Anyway, it was so cool, and made me even more excited to get to the Netherlands to meet all these people!
There was a waterfall down these steps when it rained!

This has been an excellent week for me, spiritually speaking. We are given so much study time as missionaries and the challenge is to be progressing individually while also learning for the benefit of your investigators and others. It's a balance, but I feel like I have so much  more to give to others if I'm replenishing my own spiritual knowledge as well! Sister Robbins discovered a great scripture for me this week, Proverbs 4:7, which talks about gaining wisdom, but "with all thy getting, get understanding." I love that, because seeking knowledge is so joyful to me, but this life isn't just about cramming my brain with random facts. Everything I learn should help me gain a greater understanding of the world, of God, of others, of myself. I really feel like I've been able to do that here- I've been gaining understanding of my purpose as a missionary and I feel so much more prepared to go forth and share this glorious message!
Dutch and English scriptures! I was trying to be cool and use the macro feature on camera.

Shakespeare has written that "parting is such a sweet sorrow." That's the only slightly hard part about leaving- I'll miss many of the friends I've made here at the MTC! Especially the wonderful people in my district (and the other Dutch district). Hopefully we'll all get to serve together at some point in the field, but we won't be all as close as we are now, and I love the Elders and Zusters I've been here with. We have inside jokes and laughing fits and yet constructively support and help one another to improve. It's fantastic!
The Dutch speaking Surinames left! We miss them but I'm sure they're doing great.

Oh, here's a Dutch-ism for today! Our teacher made us practice pronouncing the difference between two words like five times each because it's not good to mix them up. "Keuze" (cay-oh-zuh) versus "kuis" (cow-ss). One means choice, the other means chastity. Things could get confusing for an investigator if you mixed them up, weetje (you know)?

One last deeper thought: in a lesson this week one of my teachers, Broeder Lewis, brought up a really interesting idea- that we are, in essence, our desires. What we desire directly relates to our actions, which determines who we become. So meaningful change starts at the level of what we desire, which is why through repentance our hearts must be changed. And we can't force anyone to change their desires, we don't want to do that, and Heavenly Father doesn't either- which is why any instruction ought to be loving encouragement. My job isn't to convince anyone of anything, only to invite others to adjust their desires, if they'd like, in ways that will bless them.  Missionary work is so different from how I always imagined it to be. I can't wait to actually get started!
Mom sent me the best care package ever!

I know I'm supposed to be here right now and I'm so grateful for this opportunity. I love you all!

Zuster Voss

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Stalking a Dutch Elder...

Hallo, hou gaat het met jullie? I love the beautiful Dutch language! In less than two weeks, I'll be there speaking it all the time. Our flight plans come this Friday. I am so excited!
Ministerial Certificate

One thing I really love about the MTC is all the muziek! Zuster Robbins and I always sing in the MTC choir, which is an uplifting experience! Music is also a great way to learn the language. Zuster Robbins and I have been working on memorizing hymns together. It's great because we both love music, she harmonizes perfectly and our voices blend amazingly. So I like to think that our incessant singing isn't too annoying to the rest of the MTC! There's one particularly wonderful song, "Zullen Wij Elkaar Ontmoeten" that we enjoy singing. It's technically a funeral song, but it's very uplifting- "will we meet again, on the other side of the lake? Yes, I shall!"

Dutch is such a unique language. There's this weird rolling "r" sound that you have to do at the back of your throat that I have yet to master... It's basically like the Perry the Platypus sound from Phineas and Ferb. Also, when the Dutch are tired, instead of sighing as we do- kind of "ahhhh" they say "heh-heh." We think that's awesome. I'm excited to see those cultural idiosyncrasies when we get there! Some other fun silly Dutch things- the word for unicorn is "eenhorn" literally, "one horn." Also, we learned their Happy Birthday song, and it's hilarious, exciting... I wish I could sing it for all of you.

Hilarious story time. There's an Elder who just arrived at the MTC who's actually from the Netherlands, called to speak Dutch in Suriname. A couple other Dutch sisters ran into him, and of course all of us were excited to meet him, so when they pointed him out in the dining hall we got up to go say hi, except that  he walked out, so we were sort of creepily following him since he hadn't seen us... The Surinamese elders were especially excited to talk to him, since they'll be serving with him. He went into the bathroom, and one of the Elders, who we love but who shall not be named, got impatient after a couple of minutes and went in after him. He walked in and saw a few elders standing around, no one he could see actually using the restroom, so he said, "Who here is from the Netherlands?" They just looked at him. "Okay, I know someone here is from the Netherlands!" Then came a voice from the farthest stall... "I am..." Oh, talk about awkward, but so hilarious! Eventually they came out and we got to talk to the Dutch Elder. He was really cool, but his native Dutch was difficult to understand, since he spoke faster and smoother than we were prepared for... Nevertheless, he was very nice and great to talk to, it's just too bad that we tracked him down with such awkwardness... We love telling that story though. I shall remember it forever.
Hard at work in the classroom

Here's another fun story. I lost a gray sweater on one of my last P-days, I'm not sure where. However, that very next day I found in the giveaway bin a beautiful bright blue shirt, my size, with the tags still on... I call that a good exchange! Especially since I have two other gray dress sweaters. So I thought that was cool.

We have so much study time here- 6 hours a day of class, three for study- personal, companion, and language study. I find that I'm both happier and more effective if I plan and use my study time effectively, in a self disciplined way. technically all that time is supposed to be in the classroom, but fortunately we're allowed to study outside some of the time!
An Elder friend of Zuster Robbins. I needed to be in the picture to prevent an MTC "dating" incident (a Sister and Elder may not take a picture alone together)
It's been a great week for spiritual growth. We discussed our spiritual gifts, and I'm just so grateful for the knowledge that we've each been prepared with what we need to accomplish what God expects of us, and to become who we need to be. It makes me more determined to use those gifts wisely!

We also had our investigator ask us a deep question, of sorts- why does God make us one way, then give us commandments that we must deny our natural inclinations in order to obey? We had a great class discussion and came up with some answers; Ether 12:27, we are given weakness to help us become humble, which brings us closer to Christ (and I decided that a weakness is anything that prevents us from being like/coming closer to God). Also, God will never give us commandments that we can't obey (1 Nephi 3:7). So it's always possible, and we each have our own unique challenges and weaknesses to overcome, but I think that's part of the essential molding process, making us better. I strive to have righteous desires, but I know I'll never in this life have my will perfectly aligned with the commandments. I'm not a robot, and my Heavenly Father doesn't want me to be one! What do you think? Why do you think we are made with personalities that make following the commandments difficult for us?

Okay, back out of deep waters- I love it here. I love my hilarious, sometimes (actually often) sassy teachers who have so much knowledge to impart and can teach us the language and how to be good missionaries in creative, clever ways. I love my fellow missionaries and how much we all help and support each other in accomplishing our many, sometimes difficult goals here. We are people, and I'm so grateful for that! We don't need to be cookie-cutter perfect all the time, although of course I'm trying my hardest to be perfectly obedient and to always give 100%!

So today we have more than 30 new missionaries joining our zone! The majority of whom are actually sisters, which is wonderful. So Zuster Robbins and I have been called as Sister Training Leaders supervising especially the new Swedish missionaries, and all the other Dutch sisters have been called as Sister Training Leaders too! So we'll all work together in welcoming and guiding the new missionaries, which I am so excited to do. It's cool to have a leadership calling, it gives me new motivation and direction in my work.

One last cool thing that we get to do here: we have TRC, which stands for Teaching Resource C..? I don't know. But basically, local members who are from the Netherlands come in and we get to talk to them, hear them, and they can teach us little things. It's a great opportunity to hear native speakers speak, and plus they're the sweetest old people and are very matter of fact, who will correct our mistakes and encourage our successes. I think that's something really cool that the MTC does. Next week I think we get to skype members who are actually in the Netherlands!
There's this statue of a missionary at the MTC but it's funny because he's right outside the door to the laundry area, so it looks like he's carrying laundry. His gaze into the distance suggests a longing for clean clothes. Pictured here are Zuster Robbins and I, twinning in Nederland shirts and jeans, also holding our laundry bags. Aren't we a noble sight?
Okay, I think that's finally all. I love receiving letters and e-mails, hearing from all my friends and family! You're all great. I love being a missionary and I'm looking forward to really going to my mission and sharing what I've been learning here! Life is beautiful, and even on hard days there is joy in serving God!

And with that sappy-sounding parting line, I bid you adieu.

Zuster Voss