Zuster Fox?

Zuster Fox?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Secret to Happiness

This was a wonderful week. I guess I will start with the biggest news- transfer calls!!! Sister Goodman will be leaving and going to Dordrecht, and we will miss each other- our transfer here together has been bliss! I will be staying in Turnhout and Sister Young will be coming here from Gouda. In addition, I have just received a new call to be the Sister Training Leader of the Antwerpen zone! Basically, that means I will now be involved in preparing zone trainings and presenting the zone vision together with the zone leaders, and I will attend Mission Leader Council once a month. I'm assigned specifically to support and serve the wonderful sisters here in Belgium, which means that I'll be conducting exchanges with them throughout the transfer in their respective cities. It's a lot of responsibility, but I also can really see how Heavenly Father has been preparing me and helping me. The Lord qualifies whom He calls, and I'm a bit apprehensive but mostly just excited to serve in this additional calling!
Biking through a beautiful park.

We have had a wonderful week full of miracles. It was hot, and then became rainy and cold, so I guess Belgium just can't make up its mind! We had some cool finding experiences. Before my mission, I don't think I liked the idea of knocking on doors at all. But since coming here, it just makes sense! We have some extra time when not teaching, so hey, let's see if anyone on this street might be interested in this glorious message! and I have talked to so many people whose miraculous conversion stories just start with the missionaries appearing on their doorstep.

Nevertheless, it can be discouraging when appointments fall through and that is all we have to do all day. That happened to us on Thursday this week, and it happened to be pretty hot! but as we went along, several different times, individuals who weren't interested but just ind, Christlike people invited us in. One lady prayed with us, and another sweet couple gave us cake and soda. It reminds me of Matthew 10:40-42. Those who invite us little ones in just for a cup of cold water shall in nowise lose their reward! I am grateful for the sweet souls who look on us with compassion when we are having a long day and facing a lot of rejection. God will bless them. In each case (and it happened three times) they invited us to come back whenever we were in the area! what sweethearts.

Group selfie with Geel Elders!
In another awesome event, one of our investigators decided to quit smoking all by herself because she found the "word of wisdom" entry in the back of her Book of Mormon. She showed us at our next appointment and our jaws dropped in shock. This is a lady being led by the spirit!
The carnival, or kermis, is in town!
Jenthe, an awesome recent convert here
Further. yeah, it was a great week. I learned a lot about being humble and grateful. That the secret to happiness no matter what the circumstances! :)

I love you all! Have a great week!

Zuster McKinney Voss

Saturday, August 15, 2015

One year already?

This past week I hit my official one year mark. On August 6, 2014 I entered the MTC, uncertain about what the next year and a half would bring but excited and enthusiastic, eager, to discover and begin the great adventure before me. Now, a year later, I can say it has been absolutely incredible, without a doubt the best year for my life up to this point. It has been such a powerful learning experience! I have acquired life skills- how to interact better with people, cooking, cleaning, living on my own, and I have grown spiritually. My foundation built on Christ has become much stronger. And of course, I have seen countless miracles and experienced inexpressible joy in the progress I have seen others make and in the relationships I've developed. It's just the nature of the work. And it is such a blessing!
Picture from time in Assen

So, that was on Thursday. The rest of the week was pretty great. On Monday we had a zone p-day in Lokeren- we played random sports and it was so fun just to be with all the other missionaries in Belgium! The members in my areas have always welcomed me in as my family, but I think we are kind of a missionary family as well. Playing volleyball with friends is just always a nice chill thing to do!

Tuesday morning was a scene of great drama in our little house. We had just woken up and were slowly getting ready for district meeting when I heard a beeping and grumbling from the end of the street. With a sudden realization that that sound could mean only one thing, I dashed upstairs to check our trash calendar, and sure enough, it was pick up day- which in Belgium means, the one specific kind of trash that you have to sort and you only get one chance to get rid of it every two weeks so if you miss it you must suffer in stinkiness until the next pick up. I yelled down to Sister Goodman, "it's rest afval day! It's rest afval day! We have to get all the trash outside now!" Then I threw on a random skirt and we ran around the house frantically collecting that kind of garbage and stuffed it into our little trash container and dragged it outside as the truck moved ominously closer. then we ran back inside, closed our gate, and waited nervously to see if they would accept it. We both released sighs of relief and gave each other high fives when they took it away. All of this occurred at 6:40 am.

Me holding my mission call on my mission birthday, so to speak. Can't believe I have less than six months left now!

Our street is so romantically European and beautiful!

The rest of the week was not nearly so stressful. Haha :) On Wednesday I was on exchanges with Sister Maughan, our sister training leader, and the mini-missionary working with the Antwerpen sisters this week, the fabulous Sister Spijkerman, from Zwolle. It was really fun! We talked to a lot of people in Turnhout, taught together, and it was really fun! I love getting to work with and learn from other missionaries.
With the zone leaders! (blondes and gingers segregated, I noticed later haha)
So it was cool when the next day, our zone leaders Elder Tornianen and Elder Bernier joined us for a few hours to do a sister support day! They helped us teach a lesson and we ended up just walking everywhere. I'm grateful for the support and service of our missionary leaders. It is encouraging!
Beginning of a series of "candid" photos of Sister Goodman and I being typical missionaries, but companionless Elder Bernier photo bombed every single one haha 

On Saturday Sister Goodman and I had 15 minutes before a lesson, so I suggested that we go walk around a nearby park and talk to people. The first person who came across our path was a super cool, open, positive and spiritual man. He gladly accepted a Book of Mormon, gave us his address to come talk about it later, and prayed with us before we parted ways. He brought up the veil that separates us from heaven, but which is sometimes thin. Super deep! Basically it was just awesome, and we were standing on a little path in the midst of cool, shady trees. It was just such a peaceful scene, and my heart was so full of gratitude that we could feel the Spirit so strongly. I love being a missionary!

Another cool story of the week was a new investigator who we visited. She immediately asked us some questions about gifts of the Spirit she had learned about in her own studies. We started explaining the gift of the Holy Ghost and she basically said, "I don't remember the laying on of hands after I got baptized! I guess I'll have to get baptized again so I can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost!" ...it was awesome. We told her that would would love to help her prepare to do that, and she was just super enthusiastic. We set a tentative baptismal date for October. I am excited to continue working with her!
This is the castle, a former lodge of the Dukes of Brabant that is right here in the middle of Turnhout!
Cool sideways building in Turnhout
In sacrament meeting yesterday Sister Goodman and I played a violin/piano duet as an intermediate musical number. It was "Amazing Grace" and the Spirit was so strong. The words are so simple but powerful! We need Christ. His grace enables and strengthens us when we cannot go on. I am so grateful for His love and Atoning sacrifice. Through study and prayer I have received my own witness, and I can testify that I know that He lives, He is the Son of God, and He is our Savior. I am so grateful for all He has done for me and for all of us.
With Sister Maughan and Sister Spijkerman (it's pronounced like "spiderman") in front of Antwerpen Centraal and enjoying delicious melon ice drinks!
I hope you all have a wonderful week! Another cool Dutch lingual difference that can have a greater significance: there is no difference between the words for husband/wife and man/woman. It's just "man" and "vrouw." It can be frustrating as a foreign speaker trying to pick it up from the context... But I think it's also a beautiful hint at our eternal destiny. A woman is meant to be a wife and a man is meant to be a husband, because the two are meant to be together- forever, with their children. Ponder that :)

Love, Sister Voss
Lunch in Antwerpen after exchanges!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Bike Safety and Counting Blessings

Ik zal snel zijn deze week. We waren druk, dus ik ben moe, maar nog enthousiast. Ik hou van zendingswerk!
We found an awesome windmill
Last p-day was great because we actually stayed in our own city and caught up on a lot of stuff, including naps. Some things just need to be done :) We also, finally, bought our helmets! So this was our first fully helmeted week. We each found semi-cute, safe ones for 10 euros, which made me tremendously happy. I also realized that I need to be a big girl and stop complaining/whining about wearing helmets. It's undeniably safer and not a big deal to have to do what every other missionary in the world already does. The funny looks and double takes we've gotten haven't helped my attitude, but then I realized people do that anyway because of the nametags haha. And one potential we saw on the street noticed our helmets and was like, "zijn jullie vaak gevallen?" (have you fallen a lot?) and proceeded to tell us that only children need helmets. No worries haha.

But yeah, we had a great week! An awesome district meeting where we were chastised/counseled to remain humble and thankful even in the face of great success, which is so true. Nothing we have comes from ourselves. Every blessing is a gift from our Heavenly Father, so we need to maintain that proper perspective and remember Him in every miracle!
1st day with helmets. It is physically impossible for sister goodman to look sad. lol

Glorious Belgian cornfields, round 2; helmet style. slightly less romantic!

I had a cool experience on Thursday; all of our appointments basically fell through, so we were just finding and knocking doors all day. Which has its merits, because we talk to a lot of cool people and found some who are interested. Nevertheless, it can get kind of exhausting, as well as discouraging to face hours of rejection (we were accidentally knocking in a neighborhood where Jehovah's Witnesses had just been, apparently, so the people were not super friendly or happy to see us). We went out after dinner for another couple hours and our plans also didn't go through, so same thing. Knocking doors! I love being a missionary and using every moment of every day to share what brings me so much joy, but it does kind of hurt to have it rejected. So I just said a prayer in my heart, "Heavenly Father, please, I am having a hard time. Please let us find someone who will listen to us or let us in to help me get through the rest of the evening. If that isn't thy will, I understand, but please."
We went to the national playing card museum here in Turnhout! It's like two minutes away from our house. this is where vegas gets most of its cards!
Just a few doors later, a really kind, friendly lady opened the door, and listened to us - we talked for about 15 minutes and said a prayer together, and it was so nice. I thought that that was the answer to my prayer, so I thanked Heavenly Father in my heart. We still had more time though so we kept going. Just a little farther down the street was another incredible normal Belgian woman who is religious, loves Christ, and was open to hearing what we had to share. She invited us in and we were there for about half an hour, and she basically shared her testimony of Christ as well. We left feeling buoyed up, hopeful, and grateful. Neither of the ladies we met made a new appointment, but they opened their hearts and doors to us.
Meadow photo shoot

Free water, the first I have seen in Europe. no joke. water fountains are not a thing here.
I just want to share my testimony that Heavenly Father Answers prayers! Even at the end of a long day, He sees His little weak servants and sends us what we need to keep going and strengthen our faith. He leads us to prepared people, not just out of love for us but out of love for them. I am so grateful to be a part of this inspired work!

So yeah. It turned out to be a great week! We actually taught a lot, and the weather was beautiful, which is always nice! I'm living the dream here in Turnhout Belgium! The trash collection system is complicated, the public transportation a little bit jenky, and the vlaams is hard to understand, but it is truly a promised land here. Everyone is Catholic, so they have that existing foundation of faith in Christ, and the houses and countryside are beautiful. I am grateful to serve here!

I love and am praying for all of you at home. I hope you're having a great week, and don't forget to thank God for all your many blessings :)

Love, Sister McKinney Voss

PS: We went to visit and older couple in our branch, and they happened to have a lady there who was a partial caretaker. she sat down to chat with us and asked tons of questions about the church and the Book of Mormon, and we were able to tell her all about it. It was such a cool miracle! Heavenly Father is awesome! He just sends people across our path!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Our Eternal Potential

This week was wonderful! It started out with an adventure in GENT, a beautiful city in West Vlaanderen where we went on p-day. Kimberly, aka the very recently returned missionary Sister Verdegem who was my sister training leader for three transfers, is a Belgian native and was able to give us some insider tips and a special guided tour through the city. We visited an incredible medieval castle, walked amongst some gorgeous cathedrals and through streets that are as bustling now as they were during the renaissance. Crazy feeling. It was so fun, and I did my best to appreciate the city's rich heritage of architecture, culture and history!
 Belgium is breathtaking!

The rest of the week went really well as well. we have been focusing on the language this transfer - making the mission language our own. Zone conference was kind of a wake up call for me, because I think I was starting to plateau.  I generally don't have any problems expressing myself in Dutch now, so it was pretty easy to sit back and be satisfied. But honestly, I still have so far to go in language mastery! So Sister Goodman and I have been working on speaking it more to each other, and to members and investigators who speak Dutch natively but sometimes insist on speaking English with the missionaries. As a result of our focus on the language, we had an incredible lesson with a recent convert where he heard the message of the restoration for the first time in his own language, and the Spirit in the room was so strong! And Sister Goodman and I both learned a lot about Dutch, as well!
This view is crazy!
Me with the incredible city of gent

On Wednesday we had interviews with the Bunnells and district meeting. It was fantastic!  I love President and Sister Bunnell and know they are supposed to be here! They are prepared to meet our needs and guide the missionary work here in Belgium and the Netherlands. They are awesome!

Elder Johnson, our fearless district leader and Elder Thornock stayed and came on a sister support day with us as well. It's always fun for me to learn how other missionaries work, and they found us a really cool potential who immediately scheduled an appointment with us when we went back a few days later!
With Sister Faa and Elder Clukey
Tuesday was Belgium's birthday, when the country as it presently exists came into being on July 21st 1830. So we celebrated by buying hardcore traditional Belgian Friets! With mayonnaise, of course.
Our Happy Birthday Belgium friets! (fries) 
On Friday I was on exchanges with Sister Faasavalu in Antwerpen! That was exciting and fun. It's a big, beautiful city and I enjoyed working with her there. We went jogging in the morning to see a funny baseball field that says "Antwerp till we die." excellent. Then we ate Belgian waffles together! So it was a lot of fun.

Fun exchange and waffles with sister faasavalu in Antwerpen!

We had some rainy days this week and got completely soaked a couple times, but no worries! I prefer it to a sweltering hot July!

Church and our entire Sunday were awesome. We had a couple of investigators there and taught the Sunday School lesson to the youth, which went really well (we also brought chocolate chip cookies, maybe that helped). Then later in the evening we had a fantastic member present lesson - a family in our ward has children exactly the ages of the children of the family we are teaching, so they all came, and it was incredible- everyone had a friend, everyone was focused and participated, it was just a fabulous lesson! We felt like missionaries from The District. Picture perfect.
I have adorable investigators in every city!
Belgium isn't sketchy/dangerous at all...
This past week I read an amazing talk entitled "The Weight of Glory" by my favorite Christian author, CS Lewis. I recommend it to everyone. But basically, we have a lot of potential as travelers on the path leading to God. We have the potential to be glorious. We shouldn't focus on that too much for our own salvation- but it is critical to recognize that in the context of others. "The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of potential gods and goddesses....There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal."

He says it so perfectly! It is indeed a serious thing. We were walking along later in the day after I read that and I watched someone approaching and almost let him pass by. but then I thought, "no! what about his glory? he is no mere mortal and deserves the chance to hear about the gospel!" so I stopped him, gave him a card and just had a short conversation. The point is, we can all help each other reach our eternal potential and glory. Never forget that Christ Himself lies within you! Moses 1:13 |Who art thou Satan? I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten!"

We are all children of God with unimaginable potential. Have a great week, everybody. I love you!

Liefs, Zuster Voss
Current apartment.

Casually chilling in Gent

Your casual Belgian medieval castle in the middle of the city.

Close Quarters.
Quite a castle.
Selfie with the former sister Verdegem! aka, Kimberly