Zuster Fox?

Zuster Fox?

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Lord Giveth, and the Lord Hath Taken Away; Blessed Be the Name of the Lord

This week feels as though it has lasted at least a month. It started out pretty rough and had some struggle bus moments, but I can't deny that it has been a week of miracles.
This week, Sister Woodbury got pretty sick, I lost one of my nametags, we got soaked to the skin waiting at a bus stop, aaaaand my bike was stolen. Ouch. What is so ridiculous is how incredible the week still was, however, and I'll try to explain as best as I can.
So, my stolen bike. It was largely my fault for neglecting to securely lock it- when we went into our appointment it was there, when we came out, it was gone. I won't deny that it was pretty jarring and traumatic and I'm pretty sure I went through all the stages of grief for the sake of my bike. But I learned so, so much. First, that I'll never lock a bike with any less than two locks and to a secure object. But also, I learned much more than that!

Climbed a super tall pretty hill and tried to take a selfie and include the view.

I realized that my happiness does not and should never depend on material things. While I am on a mission, I have consecrated everything I have and am to God. It was His bike, not mine. It served me well for two transfers. I was also kind of upset that lack of a bike would halt our missionary work- but as we learn in D&C 3:1, the purposes and works of God cannot be frustrated! This is His work, and He will ensure that it gets done. He miraculously provided that I could borrow a bike from an investigator for a week, and then gave me a new one. Zuster Keuter, our ward Relief Society President, heard about my stolen bike and then told me she was buying a new bike and so I could have her old one. Crazy! It just confirms that these people are the kindest, most generous, loving people ever... And that Heavenly Father makes sure that His work will not be interrupted! I am so very grateful for the people that have helped me this week and to Heavenly Father. Our bikes are our main form of transportation, so not having one is pretty difficult... Thus it's incredible how well it worked out.
That proved difficult. So I took a separate picture of the view haha.

I also realized from this experience that I choose my own attitude. I'm pretty innately positive and I think I've kind of always taken it for granted that I tend to see the best and the positive in any given situation. But I got pretty sad and mopey (can you say that?) for a day after my bike was stolen. So it took me consciously recognizing that I didn't feel as good and happy as usual and deciding to change that for me to feel better. I have full hope that God will take care of me and have faith that everything happens for a reason. I can choose to see the best of everything. I wasn't called here to teach half-heartedly and sadly walk around because of a temporary circumstance. I came here to share the joy of the Gospel! I can choose to radiate happiness and peace, despite outside circumstances, and even if it doesn't come easily from within. It was a pretty cool moment for me to learn that.

Kind of related to that, I also remembered that my mission isn't about me, or my silly bike. It's about me serving others. That should be my first goal and priority. And if I'm not worrying about myself all the time and am focused on others, if I've turned outward instead of inward- then I'm following the example of Christ, and can feel greater inner peace. Pretty incredible.
Now, moving on! This week was Sinterklaas, hard core, up until December 5th, and the people here are way too nice to the missionaries. We had an anonymous Sinterklaas who dropped a few gifts into our brievenbus (mailbox) through the week. The Loorbach family gave us adorable slippers that look like Dutch Klompen. From familie Keauter Sr we got the traditional poem that accompanies a sinterklaas gift, called a gedicht, that was way cute- plus little make up masks and chocolate covered kruidnoten (heaven). We have received chocolate letters in great abundance from a variety of loving people, and enough kruidnoten to become our new year's supply food storage. We have eaten this week in the homes of many loving members and felt the Spirit so strong! I feel so loved and comfortable here. These members are enthusiastic about missionary work, service minded, and so kind. I'm excited that I get to spend Christmas here!
This is pretty dark. But we were eating dinner with a recent convert and we made her a pretty paper Christmas tree. I feel pretty pleased with it!

Speaking of which...We got transfer calls, with huge exciting news. I'm staying in Assen, gelukkig (happy), and... I'm training! I almost don't know how to describe how overwhelmed I felt initially. We've been expecting this to happen almost since we left the MTC, but it never quite seemed real, until one of the Assitants to the Presidents was saying to me, "Sister Voss, you have been called to train in Assen. Are you willing to accept this calling?"
After only three months in this country and four months of learning and practicing my Dutch, Heavenly Father has asked me to take over the missionary work of this city and attempt to guide, train and prepare a freshly new missionary for the rest of her mission. I'm humbled and sobered by this responsibility. I'm prepared to do my best and rely on Heavenly Father- I'll have too! I know that whom the Lord calls, He qualifies. and right after we got the call, Sister Woodbury was using 1 Nephi 3:7 in a lesson and the message of that verse hit me powerfully. God will never command me to do anything without providing a way for me to accomplish it. We weren't sent to the earth to fail, but to succeed, gloriously! He wants me to be obedient, to do my best, and if I'm doing that, He will make everything turn out as it should.

I'm excited for the opportunity to train and eagerly looking forward to meeting my new companion on Wednesday morning. She's lucky that she'll be "born" (begin her mission) in Assen, and I'm grateful that I had that privilege and that I get to stay here with these wonderful people for at least six more weeks!
To tie up any loose ends I introduced at the beginning of the post- Sister Woodbury has fully recovered and is ready to see her parents and head home. I will be sad to see her go but I'm excited for her! My nametag is still missing, but fortunately I have another one. And getting soaked through in the rain while waiting for a bus? Well, yes, that was unpleasant, but we did eventually dry off. Unfortunately, it did become bitterly cold these past couple weeks, after a gloriously mild fall and early winter. However, the cold just makes it feel more like the Christmas season! Woohoo!
We had some really cool miracles this week; for example, we both had an extremely subtle prompting to go visit an investigator we hadn't had contact with for a while. He was there, let us right in, and he and his wife both sat down with us and we had a wonderful lesson and they promised to come to church. And on the way, we got to see a less active member, who also promised to come to church next week so basically... that was the best experience ever. When we allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit, we see things like that all the time. It was pretty incredible!
We found this random empty space by unscrewing a panel in the wall in our apartment... We decided to make a time capsule/log for other curious missionaries who might find it, thus the bottle. That was a fun adventure!
The scripture quoted in the title comes from Job 1:21. The Lord giveth, and I have a testimony that what He takes away is for our own good. He gives so much though, and wants to give us so much more; our potential is so much greater than we can imagine. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Zuster Voss

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