Zuster Fox?

Zuster Fox?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Member missionaries are the best!

Well, this week has been a roller coaster! As usual, mostly awesome things have occurred though. We've begun teaching the niece and mother of another investigator we have, and it's really cool to teach families and see them progress together!

We had exchanges again this week, and this time I stayed in Assen and Sister Verdegem (who usually works in Apeldoorn) was my companion for the day. This was actually my first full day in Assen without Sister Woodbury, and it's comforting to realize that I do indeed know the area well enough to not get lost, to know what to do next, to lead the way. I love Assen!
This was an advertisement for a flower shop in Zwolle that was super beautiful!

We had a cool experience this week where a member family asked their neighbors if they'd be willing to let us practice teaching our lessons with them, and they totally accepted- so we got to teach them! So we had a member present lesson, they already had a relationship of trust with each other, the members trusted us with this awesome referral- it's the most ideal situation possible in missionary work. We could knock on a hundred doors, and if for just one person our message brings a ray of hope in a time of darkness, it's worth it. But it's so much more effective for everyone to see that we're normal people who are just dedicated to God and sharing what has brought us so much hope and happiness, and that idea can best be communicated when we're introduced by friends.

That arrangement was even more fabulous because after the lesson, we all went over and had dinner with the member family, and it was pannenkoeken! Can you imagine pancakes for dinner? But they aren't like American pancakes. Instead of being thick, light and fluffy, they're thin and sturdy. I don't really know how to describe it- kind of like crêpes, but less fragile. Anyway, they're delicious. They had savory dinner ones with cheese and bacon cooked in, and then just normal plain ones what we could cover with syrup or powdered sugar. Dinner, and dessert. I love it when that happens.
Bridge in front of the huge gorgeous ancient Zwolle statehouse building

Also, this week we were invited to an incredible, elaborate, fancy birthday party for a pair of one year olds. It was awesome. We go over a couple times a week to help a bit with this family since it's kind of hard to manage one year old twin girls while being pregnant, and their mom knows how to throw a party! It was awesome to be at a lovely restaurant, to be involved in helping the girls and for the other guests to see how trusted we are. Sister Woodbury and I both got to share some of our beliefs and have really cool conversations with different guests, and this is another example of how much nicer it is to talk to people who already view us as friends, not random strangers trying to push a religion.

The last most exciting thing that happened this week was Turkey Bowl! We got together as a zone in Zwolle to play good American football/ultimate frisbee and to eat a dinner together. It was really fun- all my years participating in ward turkey bowl back home paid off and I felt like I contributed to my team. But we're missionaries, so we don't keep score haha. Anyway, it was a blast! Also, Sister Woodbury and I got to Zwolle early to try to email at the library there- sadly, it wasn't open, but happily, Zwolle is a beautiful old city and it was incredible to wander around before the turkey bowl started, appreciating the gorgeous buildings and eating fresh croissants. So that was pretty cool. Also, on the train ride back from turkey bowl Sister Woodbury and I sat on the floor with the six missionaries from Groningen and we all played Bang together. It was awesome.

I climbed to the top of a rope structure thing on a playground while we waited for the other missionaries to come to turkey bowl
Playing Bang on the floor of the train. Only four out of the eight of us are pictured here haha.
Our Thanksgiving dinner! Elder Hirsch, Elder Rasmussen, and Elder Rozendaal as the crazy photobomb
So, it was a good week! There are still challenges and stressful moments, but overall we are so blessed with so much work and such miracles here in Assen. My experiences this week have definitely made it even more clear that missionary work is most successful when members and friends are involved. Thus my encouragement to everyone is that we need to open our mouths! Share what's important to you with those around you. We never know who might be interested or how much it will mean to friends or family that we thought of them with something so central to our lives. Heavenly Father wants us to come closer together, to form stronger bonds of friendship and love, and the Gospel should always facilitate that. I'm so grateful that I can be here dedicating all of my time an energy to sharing this message of hope! At least for this specific period of time. I can't believe I've already been on my mission for almost four months!
A really cool old door to the statehouse building

Until the next week/tot volgende week,

Zuster Voss

PS: Also, I've noticed something funny that became especially obvious at our zone p-day. Some combination of me introducing myself in Dutch/missionaries pronouncing everything the Dutch way means that even when American missionaries are speaking English, they still say my name the Dutch way. It's pretty obvious in English how we say it, but in Dutch it's "f-oh-ss." So I don't ever really get "Sister Voss" from anyone except missionaries from my MTC group. Everyone else says "Sister fohss" so to speak. It's pretty funny.

Additions to last week's blog:
Also in my post from a couple weeks ago, did I mention that I was drinking rooiboos tea, a herbal tea from South Africa? That might be important to mention.

Monday, November 17, 2014

St. Martin's Songs and bag miracles

Well, this was an exciting week, full of cool missionary experiences and cool cultural experiences.
The library where we email- De Nieuwe Kolk- has these weird poles in the front of it that light up and play music when you hug them. It's strangely satisfying.

First of all, St. Martin's was on Tuesday! It's sort of like halloween, and they only celebrate it in the Northern Netherlands. The kids make paper lanterns and go around doors- they get candy, but first they have to sing any one of maybe thirty different little St. Martin's songs. The lyrics are random nonsense but cute. We were eating with members and got to walk around with their 8 year old son for a little while while he and his friends were going around - we learned one of the songs, which was cool. On the way back to the house we stopped at the home of the de Jonge's neighbor, sang our songs just to be silly, and still got candy! And set up to come teach them with a member next week. That was a win-win-win. Then back at the house, we got to answer the door for other little kids coming around and singing. It was adorable, and we also saw very creative lanterns. Here's a song example:
"Mickey Mouse ging lichtjes lopen, Alle deuren vlogen open, Mickey Mouse zei 'dank je wel.' En hij ging naar de volgende bel."
Mickey Mouse went out walking with lights, all the doors flew open, he said 'thank you' and went to the next doorbell. See? It's random. But cute. I wish I could sing it, then it would make a bit more sense. But there you go.

Also this week, Sinterklaas came to town! It's a big deal. We had a lunch appointment, then got out just in time to see the parade with Sinterklaas. We bought delicious olliebollen to fully appreciate the festive atmostphere, then went to our next appointment- it was great though. Sinterklaas is huge.
We saw Sinterklaas come to town! He rides in on a boat from Spain, don't ask me why. This is a different person from Santa Claus. But his boat is beautiful, and it is a huge deal when he comes! They'll celebrate Sinterklaas here until December 5th when he fills the children's shoes with goodies. It's a huge and interesting holiday.
Sinterklaas himself on his horse riding by in the parade. It was awesome.
We also had exchanges this week- I went to Apeldoorn with Sister Jaramillo and we had a great day working there. She's also an amazing cook, so when we came home for lunch I helped her prepare a fabulous meal of over the top spaghetti. She's also from Arube, so Dutch is a bit more comfortable than English, so we spoke mostly in Dutch- it was cool for me to see that even casually, I can speak Dutch all day! We got on the train to exchange back, and then I realized that I accidentally left my overnight bag sitting on a bike at the station! Fortunately we were able to call our zone leaders who also work in Apeldoorn, and they were able to hurry to the station to rescue my bag- miraculously, it wasn't stolen. hallelujah. But that was exciting!
Kneeling to cut the onions when I was on exchanges with Sister Jaramillo, because I didn't want to cry as hard... haha
We also got several new investigators this week as referrals from current investigators. That was pretty cool. I love that we are so busy teaching all the time! But it makes the time we do get on p-days to relax and email a bit all the more precious.

It's getting much colder here now, and it rained all day yesterday but otherwise has been luckily pretty dry. I don't mind it getting colder, but I hope it stays dry! That's most important.

Sister Woodbury and I with our olliebollen! Delicious balls of fried dough covered in powdered sugar... it's glorious. Kind of like a doughnut I suppose, but different. Traditional for Sinterklaas!

This was the olliebollen stand. Dad note: Notice the halos above the heads of these angelic zuster missionaries.
I love that as missionaries we have so much time to study- a full hour of personal scripture study in the morning, companion study, and language study. It's so spiritually enlightening and I'm learning so much! The missionary lifestyle is great in a lot of ways.

Well, I love and miss everyone at home! Hope you're all having a great week!

Veel liefs,

Zuster McKinney Voss

More to say about last week

I want to add a couple things to my last week post.
First of all, McDonalds! I officially visited my first McDonalds in the Netherlands. It was everything I dreamed it would be. First of all, I got cantaloupe in my happy meal... But other than that it was comfortingly familiar and I had great feelings of nostalgia from the millions of times I've visited the golden arches with my family... Good times.

Also, I had a really powerful experience with the Atonement. Before my mission and as a child I thought missionaries were perfect- always smiling, always helping people. Well! Then I became one. It's a tremendous honor and opportunity to represent Jesus Christ and His restored gospel, but I still feel like I say and do dumb things and don't deserve to be a missionary... However, through the miracle of the atonement, I've seen that I can be forgiven and the burden of sin can be removed. It's pretty incredible and I'm so, so grateful.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dreaming in Dutch

This week! I feel like I have so much to share.

Sister Woodbury and I mourned halloween for approximately 3 days before starting to decorate for Christmas. Our apartment looks like Buddy the Elf attacked, in the best possible way, and we're pretty proud of the festive cheer. Also, Sister Woodbury's family sent us both super cute Thanksgiving cards, So that holiday is not completely forgotten. :)
A happy Sister Voss at a McDonalds in Nederland! 
A Happy Meal in Nederland.
We had a really special experience- We had some time to knock doors in a neighborhood, and on like the third door, a woman opened up and when we said we had a message to share about Jesus Christ, she invited us right in, called her husband down to listen, and we taught a lesson right there and made a return appointment. That was pretty dang cool. On Wednesday we had a day absolutely packed with appointments, which is ideal- we were running around super busy, teaching all day, which is great, but it's also nice to have time to do our finding. Still, it's exciting!

On Thursday we went down to the Rijswijk (I think the translation of that is like... travel/customs/immigration agency?) in Den Haag to pick up my residency permit. I now have a legal identity here besides my passport! Woohoo!
The Den Haag train station building is beatiful! We had to go through it to get my Residency Permit from the Rijswijk.

Friday was an awesome ward game night activity. I got totally destroyed by an 8 year old at the game Stratego, but to be fair I'd never played before and the instructions were in Dutch. (Dad note: I feel some failure as a parent reading this as I was sure I had taught her to play this classic game - I now know what we will be doing for our next FHE) But I dominated at some other games. And we had invited tons of less actives and investigators to the activity because we knew it would be so fun, but the ones who came, miraculously, were a 16 year old and a 9 year old who biked by themselves on a cold dark night to attend. It was miraculous and so cool to see them there.

On Saturday we drove to Zoetermeer with our investigator Charelene, our Relief Society President and first counselor to go to the 4 stake Relief Society (ZHV)conference in Zoetermeer.
It was way cool, the speakers were great, and we also got to go by the temple and experience that peace. It was great.
My Twin Marjon and I eating french fries

We took some pictures at the temple when we were there for Sister's Conference in Zoetermeer! The lovely Marjon, who stole one of my nametags, Sister Woodbury, Charelene and I. It was so special!

On Sunday I gave a talk, somehow in Dutch the entire time. I talked about how faith is the central point of every commandment- having faith to obey and expect the promised blessings, even if it seems hard.

Sister Woodbury told me that I was talking in my sleep in Dutch this week. I heard that dreaming in your new language means you've really gotten into it, so I consider that achievement unlocked. Woohoo!
You can get this delicious breakfast for one euro at the Hema!
It got cold this week! I pulled out gloves and hats... Fortunately it's just been chilly, not wet so far though.

I love and am so grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary!

Zuster McKinney Voss

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pumpkin Experts and Dundies...

It has been a pretty wonderful week! Choosing to serve a mission is the best decision I think I've ever made. It can be hard, but it's so worth it!
 Beautiful fall colors in the trees behind us!

The Drenthe Archive buildings are beautiful!
 We had an investigator come to church for the first time ever... And he went up and bore his testimony! That was pretty special.

We had our last district meeting before the end of the transfer. It was spiritually uplifting as always, but also hilarious.
Our last district meeting - Elders Bean, Claflin, Lovin, and Neptune (maybe not necessarily in that order). Great district!

District Leader Elder Claflin distributed our Dundie (like from The Office) awards and prepared acceptance speeches for us. It was fabulous.
We didn't have any special plans for Halloween, but then we were over doing service for one of our favorite people and she couldn't imagine that we were Americans but weren't going to celebrate the holiday! So she searched high and low for pumpkins and we went over that night with her family and her friends' family and had a pumpkin carving party! As the ones with the most experience we were the resident authorities, and they all loved it and got way into it- both kids and adults. It was super cool, and they also all had great questions about the church that we were happy to answer. Overall, it was one of the most fantastic, fun Halloweens I've ever had!

Companion Pumpkins
Everyone all at it together! It was a pumpkin carving party!
My Pumkin and I!
 It was a pretty awesome Halloween!
I love being a missionary and I'm grateful for all of the wonderful experiences I get to have and the miracles I get to witness. This is the life!
Here they all are lit up! It was pretty spooky

Zuster Voss
A member, Sister Loorbach and I. She made the cake, I put the strawberries on it. Teamwork! :)
Matching boots with our joint teach at a lesson. we just thought it was funny :)

Here we are with Bernadette! A recent convert who's awesome!