Zuster Fox?

Zuster Fox?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Birthday fun and Easter Joy!

This week was my birthday week! It was fabulous. I'm super grateful for the love and extra thought I've experienced from family and friends, both here in the Netherlands and back home throughout the past week!

Monday was an awesome p-day. All of the missionaries in Den Haag ward went to the beach! Not to frolic in the water, because that would be insanity.. but we ran around on the sand, made sand castles, just enjoyed the general environment. It was fun! But chilly. So we didn't stay too long! It's just kind of cool that this is Den Haag, South Holland,and there are beaches here that (in the summer) tourists actually want to go to.

We then all went to Rodezios, a Brazilian restaurant. Elder Connatti chatted casually with the servers in Portuguese. It was all-you-can-eat and they kept bringing meat around. Elder Connatti and I, probably a couple of the smallest missionaries present, kept going the longest. It was pretty funny. But it was all delicious!
Missionary Dinner at Rodizio!

The bummer of the week is that Sister Bradley really wasn't feeling well, so we had to spend a few days inside while she recuperated. Frustrating for us both to have to reschedule appointments and not be able to work, but there was nothing to be done. We played Settlers of Catan a few more times and I actually beat her once. Victory!

What's cool is that despite that, we were still blessed in our missionary work. We received a couple of referrals from random sources and were super blessed that our wonderful zone leaders, Elder Elkins and Elder Bernier, were able to take over a couple of our appointments. So the work is going forward!

Wednesday was my actual birthday! And it happened to be zone training. So it was a spiritually uplifting day of learning, and also the time where all the birthdays of missionaries of that month are celebrated. The birthday missionaries stand up front and each get 10-15 seconds of random compliments from people (they just call it out. it feels great) and then everyone sing-shouts the Dutch happy birthday song while stomping and clapping. It's pretty exciting!

We then had a dinner appointment with an awesome couple, the Jansens. They prepared a feast and invited all the missionaries! They sang to Elder Elkins (whose birthday was on Saturday) and I, and we blew out candles, and got chocolate. My birthday was definitely fully celebrated! At every place we ate dinner this week, there was cake. We have eaten a lot of cake and I have no regrets. Especially because my family sent me my favorite American cake-mix and frosting combination, so I made it on Tuesday and have pretty much eaten the entire thing by myself over the past week.
Members made sure my birthday week was special!
Also something cool from the past week- seeing a few friends from high school in the city on Friday! A fun but strange reminder that while I'm here with a completely focused purpose, life goes on for everyone else, studying, traveling, sometimes ending up in the Netherlands!

A couple fun presents: Frozen, the children's picture book, in Dutch made me ecstatic. Also, the zone leaders milked cows at a farm in the morning and brought me a bottle of fresh milk at an evening dinner appointment with an awesome member, Ethlyn. Woohoo!

So, indeed, I had a great birthday! But that shouldn't be the only thing I share this week... Being a missionary comes first! Yesterday at church was fast and testimony meeting, where everyone can come up and share their personal experiences and testimonies in sacrament meeting. I knew Den Haag was the biggest ward in the mission but it was still crazy to watch 15-20 people immediately stand up and walk to the front of the chapel to wait their turn to share their testimonies. I love the enthusiasm!

Last night was also a big multi-stake Easter concert, and we as missionaries got to sing a musical number. They did it really well- telling the story of Easter with the scriptures, with musical numbers throughout, kind of like a Christmas Nativity performance I'd say. It was powerful and inspiring. As we prepare this week to celebrate Easter, I hope we can all truly take the time to remember all that Christ did for us, and all that he does. He lives! I know it. I draw strength and power from Him every day. I am weak and imperfect, yet He makes me whole. I know He suffered and died for each of us, and that He lives now! Hosanna!
Love my awesome companion!
Allerliefste familie en vrienden, ik wens jullie allemaal een prachtige, heilige week. Ik mis en ben dankbaar voor jullie allemaal. Ik weet dat mijn Verlosser leeft!
In de naam van Jezus Christus, Amen.

Liefs, Zuster McKinney Voss

Monday, March 23, 2015

Courage is the Form of Every Virtue at the Testing Point

This week was exciting! It began with St.Patrick's day, which we celebrated by eating lots of green food. Our whole District wore green, and I was on exchanges with Sister Faasavalu in Zoetermeer later in the day- we made green pancakes and green eggs for dinner. Delicious, and festive! We also went to a Relief Society activity and made candles inside eggshells for Easter. Super fun!
It is easy being green after all!
District celebration
Here's a cool miracle. When missionaries talk to people who are interested in learning about the Gospel but live somewhere else, they pass that information on to other missionaries in different cities. This week we got a referral- from Assen! Someone with interest had approached them in a train station, and asked that they pass the info on to us. It could have come from anywhere, but it happened to be from my baby city! We called and made an appointment with the guy. It was pretty exciting!

A lot of our plans this week didn't go as expected. Nevertheless, we saw miracles in our finding and teaching. We stumbled into a former investigator from 8 years ago who had lost contact with the missionaries and wondered ever since what happened to them. We had an incredible lesson with him, and he was just so happy that we had found him again, and he is so prepared to receive this message. It was completely random how we happened to stumble across his number in our area book. Seeing such miracles always brings me so much joy! And it strengthens my faith that this is the Lord's work.

We participated in a service project as part of NL-doet, a Nationwide service effort on Friday. We had fun painting, sweeping, helping out at an elementary school. We also got to see (and feel, brr!) the solar eclipse!

Saturday was Sister's Conference! All the sisters in the mission- 40 or so- gathered in the mission home for instruction, comfort, inspiration. Sister Robinson's theme came apparently from the new live-action Cinderella film I'm dying to see. have Courage, and Be Kind. She related it to being Christlike. I learned a lot about how I can be more humble and place my confidence in Christ- and not be afraid to do right! That's where the C. S. Lewis quote comes in: courage is not just any virtue, it's the form of every virtue at the testing point! No other virtue matters if we don't have the courage to use it.
Back with Zuster D!
Women's Conference Reunion.

I love these ladies!
Also at the Conference, Elder Bosco (son of Robbie Bosco, BYU's 1984 quarterback apparently) shared a good message, and as part of it he was slowly describing BYU's winning game. But he did it very suspensefully and at that time I couldn't remember what the outcome was. So I was really nervous! When he finally said the winning score, I let out an audible sigh of relief. President Robinson was like, it happened in 1984, ya know!" and they all just laughed at me. I know my poor Dad would be embarrassed by my lack of ancient football knowledge. But I was really relieved that BYU won that game. And the National Championship and stuff.

<Dad Note> Wow, really don't know where to begin on this one. First off, sincere apologies to Brother Bosco and his family. I thought I had raised my children better than this. Rest assured that there will soon be a FHE dedicated to "epic moments in BYU history" that will include such classics as the Danny Ainge last second win vs Notre Dame, The Detmer upset of Miami (which my wife & I attended - 50 yard line, 4th row seats), Men's Volleyball National Championships, rugby domination, victories over the hapless Utes, and of course the 84 National Championship. Just contact me for the lesson plan (don't let this kind of shame impact anyone in your family...)
Pics of Apt for parents - Front Room

Umm, super creepy tiger picture and tight quarters ensure that you don't stay long in the toilet...

On Sunday, unfortunately, Sister Bradley was really sick, so we stayed in the whole day. Strange... Missionaries skipping church? haha. But it was good for her to get the rest she needed to recover. Some members let us borrow Settlers of Catan, which I'd never played before, and she taught me how to play and now I love it. She also got a blessing from our zone leaders, which I think brought us both a lot of strength.
My awesome current companion!

Have courage this week everyone! Courage to be kind, loving, humble, helpful. As we draw on the enabling power of the atonement, we need not be afraid of anything. Have a great week!
Liefs, Zuster McKinney Voss

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cheerfully Doing the Work!

We have had a glorious, exhausting week in Den Haag! Where to begin?
A giant klompen

Den Haag is international and super interesting. I still can't get enough of the architecture, beautiful daffodil-lined canals, and I even got a glimpse of the beach this week!

Sister Bradley and I have been working so, so hard. We have been looking people up who expressed interest in learning about the church but never really got a chance. We have been talking to every person we see on the street, biking all over the entire city (and it's big, man!) and working with members and investigators to help them progress. And the Lord has been blessing us with success! We have found new people to teach almost every single day, we have been teaching, and planning our hearts out. I have never worked this hard in my life or in my mission, and I have never felt so happy and fulfilled. And exhausted, for that matter. yet while it's tiring, I feel inspired, motivated by a new energy and zeal, still more enthusiastic for the work! Not like I've Always been lazy or lackadaisical before in my mission or life.
We aren't supposed to act like tourists but... I had to
But Sister Bradley and I are committed to some high goals, rededicated, and doing everything we can that lies in our power to reach them. It's absolutely exhilarating. I've also never prayed so hard in my life, or seen more clearly the Lord's hand in the work, blessing it.
Mijn collega en ik in front of the stad huis in Delft.

De Zuster
As far as specific things that have happened... Well, since there are 8 missionaries in one ward, it means we're all close and can kind of hang out on preparation day. So last Monday, we went to Delft! You might be familiar with the beautiful blue Delft blauw designs on plates? That's where that comes from. It's a gorgeous old city. We climbed a church tower where we could see Den Haag in one direction and Rotterdam in the other. It was fun, beautiful, and came with free hot chocolate afterwards.
It looks photoshopped, but I swear this was literally the view. Yes, this is the country I am so blessed right now to live and serve in!
Enjoying our hot chocolate!
Everyone at the table (Elders Reese, Connatti, Claflin, Davis, Elkins, Bernier, Sis. Bradley and I) enjoying the hot chocolate in a cute little cafe
<Added by Brother Voss> Apparently Elder Claflin continues to follow my daughter around the mission as he was also transferred to Den Haag the same week as Zuster Voss. This means he will be her District Leader for at least 5 straight transfers. Is stalking not a thing there in Nederland?...

I also had the chance to spend a day with Sister Riley and Sister Faasavalu in Zoetermeer! that was really fun too. We worked, and sang, and it was all really gezellig. We found people by singing hymns. Hey, miracles come in mysterious ways!
Sister Riley, Sister Faasavalu and I in Zoetermeer!
Jumping Picture Fail...
So, I'm loving this city, this companion, this transfer. I'm very tired, very happy, very motivated, filled with purpose. It's a great feeling. And we had a couple of nice Sunny days this week, a couple of cold cloudy ones... it's all good.
On the outside of the church tower we climbed
I was studying patience this week and found a beautiful scripture in D&C 123:17. let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power, and then stand still, and trust in God (to paraphrase). Yes! I will do, happily, all that I know I can do. And at that point, I know God is in control, and He will make everything work out the way it needs to. We aren't alone here. We are loved, watched over, and protected. I'm so grateful for that knowledge. I'm grateful to be on my mission, to be in Den Haag. God has a plan for each of us!

I hope you have a splendid, lovely week!

Zuster McKinney Voss

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Assen anymore...

Flag of each Province, not too far from the working palace of the Queen.
This week I am faced with the difficult task of summing up my last two precious days in Assen and also relating all that has occurred in my past five eventful days here in the big city of Den Haag!

Monday and Tuesday were a blur of attempting to see everyone to say goodbye and late-night packing. It's incredible how much stuff I accumulated/spread out over the entire apartment in six months. In any case, I miraculously squeezed it all into a couple suitcases.

We got to eat dinner with Marjon on Monday and with the Keuters on Tuesday, two of the places where I've felt most loved, comfortable and supported. Then I was given a farewell sendoff complete with cake and everything elsewhere. Honestly, I will miss the friends and family I've made in Assen so much! I'm grateful for all the wonderful experiences I've had there.
My sweet greenie
Last District Mtg, this is the kind of craziness that went down last transfer.
Seperation blues
Matching Drenthe sweatshirts with our beloved Marjon!
But, the day came for transfers. Sister Dobler helped me lug everything to the station, and there was some last minute panic about me purchasing my bike card to let me carry my bike on the train, but thanks to what I'm certain was divine intervention, we made it in time. But then the first bike compartment of the train was all loaded up with the Groningen missionaries! So we ran all the way to the other end of the train. It was crazy, but we made it, loaded everything on and safely rode to Utrecht Centraal, the central meeting point for all missionaries. It was kind of insane with so many missionaries, bikes and luggage, but it was fun to see everyone! It was there that I bade farewell to my dear Sister Dobler. My baby's all grown up and taking care of Assen now!
From Assen to Den Haag! That's a decent distance.
Sleepy me and all my stuff piled on the train on transfers day
How crazy it gets at Utrecht Centraal.
From Utrecht I rode with a couple other missionaries to Leiden, where I was picked up by my new companion, Sister Bradley! And an awesome member, Ethlyn. We rode to Den Haag and dropped all my stuff off, then set out to get to know our city! Sister Bradley is a bit new here too, of sorts, so we're kind of figuring it out together.
Selfie-ception with Zuster Bradley

Den Haag! Where do I start? It's huge, international, vibrant, brilliant. Assen was great, but compared to this, so small! There are so many people here. Sister Bradley and I have seen miracles - every time we've gone out contacting, we've found a potential investigator. It's so easy to just talk to people on the street- there are so many people! The architecture here is stunning, I love the canals, the diversity, everything. The first time Sister Bradley led me home on our bikes through the busy city centrum, I thought I was going to die or crash- between the trams, cars, scooters, bikes, and pedestrians everywhere, I wasn't sure how to navigate! But Sister Bradley is a city missionary and she led me safely through. This is going to be an adventure all right.

I love the social missionary environment here. Including the fulltime senior couple, there are 10 missionaries just in our ward! At correlation, Our ward mission leader had to ask us to try to coordinate baptism so there wasn't one every single weekend, so more members could come. With so many missionaries in one city, we see each other much more often, and hanging out on p-days is totally feasible. I'm eating it up. In Assen we were pretty isolated. So this is fantastic! Our zone leaders and district leaders are just right in our own city!
Old church building in Den Haag. It's casual.
Companion selfie with the architectural beauty!
Sister Bradley and I are loving it together so far!
I love interacting with the young single adults, people my age, as well! There's a great group here and I'm excited to get to know them better!

Sister Bradley and I have had some great lessons, but it's weird for me to teach in English! I kind of miss all the overwhelming Dutch in Assen, up there in the North. But I suppose teaching in English is fun too. :)

I also love the ward here. It's huge, and friendly. Feels like America. But the church is the same everywhere!

Another huge highlight was the musical concert of the singing elders in our area. I hadn't seen Elder Reese for several transfers, so it was great to see him again- moreover, he, Elder Hunter, Elder Pouwer and Elder Connatti did a great job sharing the love of Christ and the universality of our experiences here through music. It was a fantastic missionary event and moving for me personally. There's a lot of talent there and they're using it righteously to share the Gospel!

My time is dwindling, But I hope I've been able to share the most essential of our experiences here so far. I'm so pumped for this transfer! Sister Bradley and I are pumped and ready to draw from our mutual experiences to make this transfer powerful and successful! We've already clicked really well together and I can't wait to see what happens!

Have a great week everybody and remember, you are loved! And give a family member a hug today. I wish I could do that right now. Let's all share a little love!

Zuster Voss
Dundies round four with my eternal district leader, Elder Claflin.
Goodbye to my lovely greenie!

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Day Transfers Actually Applied to Me, and Raw Fish, Round II

Ik, Zuster Voss, here in Assen- goodbye!
Last week was a pretty quiet, chill week in Assen. This week, by contrast, was ridiculously packed!

First of all, transfer calls happened last night. After spending the first six months of my mission in beloved little Assen, I am finally moving-- I'm going to DEN HAAG! My new companion will be Sister Bradley, who I already know quite well from the three transfers she spent in Groningen just above me, so no mystery or surprise there either- I'm excited to get to work with her!

It's hard to describe just exactly how I feel. First of all, it's going to be a big transition. I'll be leaving a lovely cozy baby city far in the northeast and heading to a booming, bustling, internationally significant metropolis by the beach (however cold it might be right now) in the south. I'm thrilled by the prospect of taking on this next step of adventure, but I know I will also miss this place and these people where I am now. I have loved serving in Assen, and I know that Den Haag will be a completely different experience. It feels right; I know I'm being called there by the Lord. All I can do now is wait and see how it will be! I'm ready to embrace Den Haag!
Sister Support Day with Elder Bean and Elder Robbins
The rest of this week's excitement began with Tuesday, when our Zone Leaders, Elder Bean and Elder Robbins came to Assen for a Sister Support Day. They joined us as joint teaches in a couple of lessons and went contacting with us, and it was cool to learn from them and how they approach missionary work. Also, some hilarity ensued. It is my firm opinion that all Elders are at least slightly crazy. It's remarkable that they can be professional representatives of the Lord, and still retain a healthy sense of humor.
MTC group, zone Conf Elder Hirsch, Sister Bush, Watt, and Me

On Wednesday, we had Zone Conference with the Rotterdam and Apeldoorn zones in Apeldoon. Zone Conference is always a really nice opportunity to hear from President and Sister Robinson as well as some of our other leaders. We learned about how we can use the Atonement daily in our lives, through accounting to the Lord through prayer. We also had the special opportunity to watch Meet the Mormons!!!! I'd heard a lot about it, so it was awesome to finally see! I loved the stories about faithful latter-day Saints all over the world, with their unique situations and experiences.

Thursday was another special day- Sister Dobler tried haring for the first time! She took it well, and didn't make nearly as many funny faces as I did. It was still an epic moment as she lowered it ino her mouth, however. I also decided to do it wih her, since my trainer did it with me- of course, Sister Woodbury actually liked haring. But I figured that six months had gone by, I might as well give it another try! Still gross, actually. I don't think I ever need to eat it again. Nevertheless, it was a fun experience. And we got stroopwafel ice cream afterward to make it all better!
Here we go!
Companionship unity: ew, gross!
What are you doing Sister Voss...?
Hema Stoopwafel sundae!
On Saturday and Sunday, we attended sessions of Apeldoorn stake conference, in Apeldoorn and Zwolle. It was really good! Elder Price, of the third quorum of the Seventy was in attendance, and shared some powerful stories about Christ's uncompomised love, and how the efforts of a ward council can effectively reach out to rescue those in need. It was an inspiring and enjoyable experience.

The work this week also went well. We had some great lessons with investigators, part member families, and less active members. We're all in a different place in our Gospel progression, and our job as missionaries is to help everyone continue still farther on the path.
Mexican fiesta! Thanks to the sponsors-  Care package from Mom and Dad! Special Delivery by Uncle Eric!
At one point this week, I was feeling somewhat discouraged, and I shared my feelings with Sister Dobler- and man, she understands her purpose and the good she can do as a companion! She helped me see the situation from another perspective, encouraged me, and I could just feel her love and support. I felt completely buoyed up, and it was really a testimony to me as to why we are never alone in the work- a companion can be such a great strength and support! I am going to miss Sister Dobler a lot. The incessant singing and laughing as we've taken care of this corner of the Lord's vineyard has been so wonderful. I'm grateful to have had her as a companion!

And now, what can I share more? This is my last letter from Assen! Next week I'll be in Den Haag. One thing I'm really grateful for is that we are constantly given new opportunities and second chances in this life. Den Haag with be a new beginning for me. But I'm grateful for the chance that I have every day and every week to reflect back on what I've done, ask forgiveness for my mistakes and recommit to do better. The Atonement is real and unlimited; all that's asked of us is to take advantage of it. We can all be clean, we can all receive peace of heart and mind in knowing that our Father in Heaven is proud of us for trying. I'm so thankful for the miracle of forgiveness. Because of Christ, we are free!

En dat wil ik bij jullie achter laten in de naam van Jezus Christus-- Amen.
Adieu from Assen!


Zuster McKinney Voss