Zuster Fox?

Zuster Fox?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Staying in Assen!

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." This phrase aptly describes the French Revolution, as Dickens intended it to, but also my week! I'll start from worst and go to best though. Mostly, everything turned out well!

When I started my mission, I knew it would be hard; I'd heard that from too many people to not believe it. But I also knew it would be amazing! Initially, I figured the hard parts were mostly due to internal opposition. After all, isn't it enough to have to struggle to combat feelings of unworthiness, discouragement and inadequacy without anything else on top of it? And up to this week, I'd had a pretty blessed experience- no slammed doors, no yelling people. A couple hard nights or twinges of homesickness- nothing more serious than that.

Well! This week we got off a bus and started walking to our bikes when some drunk guys in the area noticed us and started chasing us! Ugh. We ran away in the station with lights and people and were fine, but that was a pretty unsettling experience. Unfortunately, that's the kind of thing that can happen everywhere, but should never happen anywhere. That's what I call external opposition! Later that night I was feeling shaken, and just wished I could call my Mom or someone- it's kind of hard in that situation. My companion was asleep, and my family and friends were all a continent away. Who could I cry to?

But remember, I said that this week was also the best of times! I had nothing to do but to turn to my Father in Heaven in prayer, and express all my troubled feelings to the only One who could really understand me perfectly anyway. I received such comfort and peace through sincere supplication to God! That day was difficult at first, but ultimately I developed a closer relationship with heavenly Father; I'm so grateful to know that everything happens for a reason!

Furthermore, this week we had some fantastic lessons. In one, we taught the Restoration, and I was able to share the first vision. At first I was nervous and worried about messing up as I shared the words I had memorized in Dutch- but as I spoke, I ceased to worry about my words and was filled anew with wonder that we live in an age where God again communicates directly with His children on Earth. The Spirit was so strong, and immediately afterward I felt that if I had come on my mission and only taught that lesson, it would have been worth it! So that was really cool.

We were actually in Assen the whole week this week, which was wonderful! It's great to explore, but it's nice to live and work in our own city. We had wonderful lessons, and again, I love the members of the church here! I truly feel like I'm among family. Several have assured us that while we're here so far from home, they'll take care of us, the way other mothers and grandmothers take care of their missionary children across the globe, wherever anyone may be on a  mission. I think that's pretty special!

Here's some really good news: transfers are happening this week, but Sister Woodbury and I are both staying in Assen!!! I am so, so grateful to get to remain here. We are excited that we are staying together- I have so much more to learn, and I don't want to leave anyone here. Cheers to another 6 weeks in this amazing little city!

I know I didn't have tons of cool cultural experiences to share this week... Here's a funny one I've been holding in reserve. In Dutch, a grote or kleine boodschap (a big or little message) are euphemisms for... poop and pee. it's a common new missionary mistake to knock and say with a smile," hello, we have a great message for you!" or, "we'd like to share a little message." But it's hilarious... I haven't done that, because Sister Woodbury warned me early on not to haha. Apparently someone who shall not be named from my MTC group has done that though to a room that burst into laughter. I think it's fantastic... but I don't plan on doing it!
Decorating for Halloween
It was a great quiet week overall. I learn from my trials and I'm even more motivated by the miracles I see every day! It's a privilege to help other people develop closer relationships with Heavenly Father, and to do that myself. I love and miss you all!

Zuster Voss

Dad note: No pictures this week due to a dead camera battery. I'll add pics next week to both blog posts.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Brussels Adventure - Serving can be fun!

Goedemiddag iedereen! I have some semi-serious missionary thoughts to share, and then lots of cool experiences!

My first missionary thought is that I've been kind of hesitant about sharing personal details about investigators, but I've realized that it's so important to let everyone know how the work is going forward in Europe! It's kind of a stereotype that we plant seeds here, but no, we also baptize! We help people make covenants that bring them close to God, and it's glorious. We here in Assen have two baptisms coming up in the next week or so and we are way busy teaching. People have been prepared here to receive the Gospel the same way they have been in South America. :)
Sisters Voss and Robbins, in Brussels, with the waffles

On a related note, I have been having so much fun, as is right- this is a joyful message, and a mission should definitely be fun! I love sharing those experiences, but I didn't come here to be an exchange student or tourist; I have a higher purpose that I'm devoted to, and that means lots of work! Serving God and His children is a sacrifice, but it definitely brings lots of blessings.

And now that I've just reminded everyone that I love to work... I have a lot of fun experiences to share haha.

First: Temple Conference! it was so cool to go to the temple in Den Haag this week. We slept over at the mission home and did a session at the temple- as with everything, it was all in Dutch, so that's exciting! It was great to partake of the peace and spirit in the temple. It is definitely a strengthening experience.
Sister Woodbury and I in front of the temple in Zoetmeer!

Then I had exchanges in Groningen again, with Sister Bradley this time. It's exciting to get a change to work in another city!

This is probably the highlight of the week: I went to Belgium! My group had to do some legality paperwork in Brussels, so on Friday we all went down together. It was first of all incredibly comforting to see everyone from my MTC group- we all missed each other! And we had an hour to get lunch in Brussels, so it was an adventure to walk around in the heart of Europe. It was beautiful, and a lovely day. We saw the Monnica Piss- why is it famous? I just think it's ridiculous. More importantly, we had BELGIAN WAFFLES. The waffle itself is sweet and he perfect combination of soft and crunchy... The strawberries, whipped cream and hot chocolate sauce made it even better. We also got Belgian frites, or fries, which were great, and then topped it off with Australian ice cream. Not the healthiest lunch, but Brussels isn't technically in our mission boundaries so we try to enjoy it while we can!
Also, while we were waiting at a bus stop, we bought Magnum icecream bars- the creamiest ice cream you've ever tasted wrapped in Belgian chocolate. Yep. Worth 2 euros.

My Belgian frites! I think these fries kind of taste like potato chips. But they are legitimately lekker.

My beautiful Belgian waffle and I <3
When we finally got back to Assen on Saturday morning, we went through he market, and we saw the first fresh stroopwafel stand since I've been here! So Sister Woodbury bought us some and we enjoyed them together. The waffle part was crunchy yet soft and delicate... the stroop (syrup) was melting and delicious, and together they were perfect. I'll never be able to eat a storebought stroopwafel again. (Dad note: Kinney seems to have inherited my fascination with food - likely she is just responding to my many food related inquiries though...)
Sister Bush and I in the beautiful main square of Brussels!
So we haven't been in our city much this week, but when we were, our days were packed with appointments. I love all of our investigators, and all of the members- I'm really hoping that neither Sister Woodbury or I get transferred, but we'll know for sure next week! I can't believe I've been in the land for more than a month, and in fact almost a whole transfer- it's crazy.

The weather has been perfect for fall, and actuall quite warm- I think on Saturday it was the warmest it's ever been this late in Oktober since 1923! So that's cool. But since I don't have the conversion between celsius and farenheit memorized I don't actually know how warm it was... but it was nice.

The work goes forward! I feel blessed to be on a mission and I'm so grateful for these experiences.

-Zuster Voss
Seriously? Why do people think this statue is cool? Is this a missionary appropriate picture?

But I took a selfie with it anyway
The older singles in our ward have a lunch every monh and the missionaries always come to share a thought... I love these sweet people!

Monday, October 13, 2014


This week I truly realized that we see miracles every single day. I can no longer accept that there's any such thing as a coincidence. That concept sounds ridiculous! As I describe my week maybe you'll see that theme too!

For example: We were going to go to a tiny little dorp (village) to contact a referral, but we missed the bus... As a result, we had time to take Sis. Woodbury's bike to a shop, where it got repaired for free in two seconds, and then we visited a less-active recent convert and he was finally HOME and we got to talk to and encourage him. It was incredible.

On a side note, earlier in the week I was biking behind Sis. Woodbury and she stopped kind of suddenly and I accidentally crashed into her. That's NOT what made her need to get her bike repaired, I promise... Neither we nor our bikes were injured... It was just kind of funny and I learned to pay better attention if I'm closely following my companion :)

Okay, another miracle! On Monday, we had an investigator call US to make an appointment. Which is great, because we hate being the needy annoying girlfriend who calls until you finally answer. We've had two great lessons with him this past week with members present. Woohoo!

A few days ago, we decorated our apartment for Halloween! That is an absolutly un-celebrated holiday here, so it's nice to get into the spirit of it a little bit with fake spiderwebs all around! I hope everyone in America is having a sufficiently spooky month!

The biggest event of this past week is probably Sister's Conference! Our mission has never done anything like it before. But on Saturday, we (all 42 sisters) gathered in the mission home to council together, and it was fabulous. First of all, I got to stay Friday night in the mission home, which is beautiful. Also, I got to see my beloved MTC group sisters again!!! I missed them so much. It was lovely to be reunited. We heard a lot of good council, but President Robinson had a message I really appreciated- about our responsibility in the work of gathering Israel. It was way cool and re-established some of my passion!
Reunited with my lovely Sister Robbins from the MTC!
 Every Sister Training Leader presented a little thought too, and I loved it. One that really stood out to me was that the spirit of fear doesn't come from God, so we can't let it govern us. I think that applies equally well to missionaries and to everyone in everyday life. God will always inspire us, and we can't let fear be paralyzing! Another really good thought was about the balance between being an obedient missionary and not being a robot. Sis. Woodbury made a really good point that I appreciated; being a missionary, being believing, is a huge PART of my personality. It's not something I'm sacrificing, it's something I'm developing! Being obedient to every little rule will help me to feel fulfilled and myself. So basically, Sister's Conference was way awesome.
All of our MTC sisters; I missed them so much! (Also, can you see my boots? They're new, and Dutch, and exciting to me. So there's that too) :)
Here's something else: Assen is way awesome! Especially after getting to talk to my greenie MTC sisters, I realize how blessed I am to be here. I speak Dutch with absolutely everyone- members, investigators, people on the street- so my Dutch has rapidly improved, and I can tell that I'm already so much more comfortable with communication (and the members tell me that frequently too). In other areas, people speak a lot of English to the missionaries. So this is defintiely a blessing! Also, the members are straight up amazing. They are excited to work with us and do their own missionary work, extremely kind, they feed us delicious food... For example: A very Dutch dish is mashed potatoes with all sorts of vegetables mashed in- it's called "stompot". It is so yummy!!!! Another reason why Assen is awesome is Sister Woodbury. She has been a fantastic companion and trainer, and I have learned so much from her! Thus my conclusion that Assen is the best city ever to be "born" in (missionary lingo for where you begin your mission).
Three generation picture! My trainer's Trainer, Sister Rosenlof (my "grandma" in missionary slang) My lovely trainer Sister Woodbury ("mom") and myself.
This is slightly random, but: For breakfast this morning I wanted to have my usual yummy yogurt with granola. But we're out of yogurt, so I thought I'd just use milk, until I realized that we have tons of stroopwafel vla.... Which has basically the same consistency as yogurt. So for breakfast I had granola with vla, with apple pieces sliced in, topped off with whipped cream. I love dessert for breakfast!

Now, the best miracle of all for me happened yesterday. We went to visit a part-member/inactive family for dinner and an FHE lesson, and it was wonderful! Spending a whole evening surrounded by little kids helped me feel at home, since I've been missing my siblings (their youngest is 4, so it was spot-on with my 3-year-old brother). That was a tender mercy in and of itself, and we had a great lesson with them. But then, at the end, the wife/mother asked us, "do either of you need a winter coat?" That has been one of my biggest stresses, that I didn't have a coat to prepare me for the coming season, and it was hard to find a good one without breaking the bank. The coat she had is long, cute, fits me perfectly, warm, relatively waterproof- I could not have found a better one if I had tried. And it's practically new! I am so grateful that Heavenly Father takes care of His children and missionaries. Matthew 6:28-34 reminds us to consider the lilies of the field- they toil not, neither do they spin, but they are arayed in glory. Why do we take thought for ourselves, what to wear, what to eat? The Lord will provide. He did for me! So that was a cool experience.

We watched a session of General Conference in Dutch yesterday. It was cool that I got the main points of every talk,l but it was hard to get spiritual impressions... I definitely have a testimony that everyone needs to receive the Gospel in their own language.

As a last note, my bike could use a name, and I've been having trouble thinking of a good one. if anyone has any good ideas, submissions are now being accepted... Anything Dutch or missionary-themed would be good, or bike related... Use your imagination!

I love you all! Have a great week!
Veel liefs,
Zuster Voss

Monday, October 6, 2014

Haring, Hunnebeds and General Conference

What a week! Beloved family and friends, I testify to you that a mission week is at least three times longer than a week in normal life, but in the most awesome ways possible.
My Bike and I

First of all, I tried my first haring last P-day. It is a traditional missionary initiation food here in Nederland... It is a dead, raw, slimy, oily, headless, pickled fish covered with raw onions. Did I make it sounds appetizing enough? You lower it into your mouth and just... eat it. My initial reaction was disgust. Many hilarious pictures were taken of my face contorted in distraught disgust- enjoy! Sister Woodbury is CRAZY and she actually likes it, so she ate it with me... Honestly, it wasn't terrible, it was basically like sushi in texture. The taste was also not the worst thing I've ever had, and the raw onions went well with the raw fish (especially if one was attempting to get the world record for worst breath!). I ate a total of four bites. I believe I deserve to be congratulated. I doubt I'll be doing it again!
The Herring (haring)

Missionary initiation or tasty treat? Here goes...
The money shot! Initial reaction.
Maybe if we do it together?

Nope, it's still gross...
Gelato afterward makes it all better! 
This week was great. I've been working on being more bold and less timid about talking to people. We're missionaries, that's what we do! There is no person on Earth who couldn't use more peace, happiness or direction in their lives, and that's the message that we bring, which reassures me when I don't want to approach someone. Anyway, we've had some great conversations with people this week too. even those who aren't interested are willing to talk to us, and I love that. Dutch people are very direct, but also very kind. Getting to know them is a privilege!

I forgot to mention last week that we had zone training, my very first. It was great to meet the other missionareis in this area, and the theme was great- we discussed becoming master teachers through study, planning, teaching and evaluating- great tips were shared and I've noticed that I've become better at teaching by the Spirit with investigators this week.

This week I went on my first exchange- to Groningen! I worked with Sister Elting for a day in Groningen, and it was way cool. It's a significantly bigger city than Assen! I think one of the reasons I feel so comfortable in Assen is because the size reminds me of home in Frederick. Groningen is bigger, busier, and very old. I saw some huge, beautiful church buildings and lovely parks with swans casually swimming in ponds... It was a great experience. Assen is also very old, but most of its growth is post-WWII so it has fewer giant marvelous cathedrals and such.

General Conference! Oh my goodness. It's so exciting to hear twice a year from prophets, seers, and revelators! We traveled to the Groningen church building and watched both the Saturday and Sunday "morning" sessions live- at 6:00 at night! I loved it though. (Fortunately, we were able to watch it in English). Through Conference I received personal revelation on behalf of myself, as well as ideas for how to better help those we teach. It was fantastic. Also, During Elder Christofferson's talk I was prompted to study the relationship between justice and mercy, which I did the next day. It was a fascinating study session, and I think I understand so much better now the essential nature of both justice and mercy. Justice is the order upon which the universe is built, and I'm grateful not to live in chaos... While mercy provides a way, through justice, for us to be restored to Celestial glory, which we couldn't do on our own. We absolutely must accept our Savior Jesus Christ for mercy to have claim upon us. Basically, it was really enlightening!

Hunnebeds: you've all heard of Stonehenge in England, I assume. Well, it turns out that Drenthe province here in Nederland is littered with other giant megalithic tombs just like it! They are thousands of years old, and it's equally mystifying how such relatively primitive people managed to move such giant boulders. The boulders, by the way, are from Swedish mountains, brought here by glaciers millions of years ago... Anyway, it's way cool. So Sister Woodbury and I went and explored some nearby ones today. You're allowed to climb on and around them, so it was really fun, and excellently relaxing P-day activity.
Me on top of megalithic tombs!
Hunnebed Selfie.
Welcome to the Hunnebeds!
Holding up giant rocks.

Overall, this was a wonderful week! Being a missionary is a great responsibility, but also a great blessing. I love being here!

Tot volgende week!
-Zuster Voss