Zuster Fox?

Zuster Fox?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Guiding People to the Savior

This week has been one of stretching, growth and change for me. It was busy and full of a lot of traveling- Sister Young and I were actually together, in our own city, for two full days, so that is a weird feeling! I think in the future I will try to spread out exchanges better so everything isn't so back-to-back-to-back. Nevertheless, everything worked out splendidly and it was an exciting week!

Exchanges with Sister Faa!
Monday was zone p-day, meaning that almost every missionary currently in the Flemish part of Belgium gathered together in Lokeren to play sports for a few hours, and it was really fun. This time we actually got a picture to prove it. I discovered that I am mildly competent at soccer (voetbal!) and I really enjoyed playing with everyone. We also played volleyball and despite the forecasted rain, the weather turned out to be pretty nice!

On Tuesday we went to district meeting in Gent and afterwards I stayed there on exchanges with Sister Robbins. It was especially poetic because we realized that Tuesday marked the official year since we arrived in the land here- meaning that it has been exactly a year since we stopped being companions, and on that date we were reunited to work together again, this time as seasoned, experienced missionaries (although we both still feel like there is a long way to go). Needless to say, it was a blast, one of my favorite exchanges ever. Finding and teaching with her felt easy and fun, and we also had some pretty deep conversations, so that was enlightening. I think a highlight was teaching a recent convert there about the temple together. There are so many blessings available to all of us there! Gent is a beautiful city too.
Sister Robbins and I!
With cowgirl Belgian hats and boots
We had back to back exchanges, so we met back up with our companions in Antwerpen Centraal, and Sister Young had five minutes to update me on what had happened in Turnhout the day before, before the Antwerpen sisters arrived and and we split up with them, Sister Faasavalu coming to join me in Turnhout for the day. And it was a busy day! We had a lesson with our most progressing investigator, and last minute a member was able to come along, and it made it such an incredible lesson. He answered her questions about tithing, testified that it was a true principle by sharing his own experiences and those of others, and invited her to church, General Conference and family home evening, which led to her accepting all of that and inviting us to come over for dinner before FHE. Basically it was the best thing ever! Thank goodness for member present miracles! And it is always fun to work with Sister Faasavalu :)
Crazy back to back exchange
We took our bus to Antwerpen on Thursday, where we did some planning with Elder Hirsch and Elder Bernier in preparation for zone training (which is tomorrow! I have to present- wish me luck!). At that point however, Sister Young and Sister Faasavalu were both feeling sick with bad colds and would need to rest... So we had the idea to let them work together (and rest together, if necessary) in Antwerpen, while Sister Johanson accompanied me to the Netherlands, where we needed to sleep over before Mission Leader Council in Den Haag the next day. That sounds really complicated. In any case, it worked out really well, and Sister Johanson ended up coming with me to Dordrecht.

The next day Sister Fleming and I went to Den Haag and I had my first real full MLC. It was incredible! I was amazed by the careful, thoughtful way matters of the missionaries are resolved. No decisions were made before considering every aspect of an issue. I was honored to participate in helping decide the direction of this mission, to some extent. We also received a lot of instruction that will be valuable to share with the other missionaries.
MLC (Mission Leadership Council) fun

All of the switching was finally over on Friday night. On Saturday we still went to District Leader Council, to help relate all that we had learned to the district leaders. Then Sister Young and I went home and used it, and had the best weekly planning of my mission. I have never felt so set up for success on my mission. I feel prepared like never before and united with my companion and the Lord in our goals. My testimony of planning and goal setting is increased. That's how you progress in life!

Sunday was a wonderful day too, lovely weather, and we got to go out and talk to people all day about the wonderful restored Gospel of Jesus Christ! more need I not ask.

The lessons I learned this week kind of came through all the other sisters I spent a long time on trains and buses with, and a lot through the Spirit. I realized that I was letting myself get tense and stressed, because I was loading myself with a lot of unnecessary burdens. Due to my calling I have a unique opportunity to be aware of any other struggles that the sisters in my zone might be carrying. I just have this desire to want to be able to think of and provide the solutions to all of their problems! But righteous and sincere as my desire to serve might be, as a former companion wisely counseled, "You are not their savior." No! I don't want to be, and I can't be. Every person in the world already has a Savior, and so do I. He has already willingly taken our burdens upon Him. So how silly is it of me to feel overloaded and overwhelmed by problems that aren't even mine. My calling is to love, support, encourage, serve, and just be a friend who can listen. My new focus will be on pointing others to the Savior. He is the one who can truly provide comfort and solutions- for me and for others. I need to lean on His enabling grace to continue on when life seems so intimidating. We all do.

I am so grateful that we have a Savior. Growth and change are often uncomfortable, but I am so glad that he has been teaching me how to rely on Him and lean less unto my own understanding. it is in Him that I have truly found the answers to my prayers and the support I need to get through this crazy life.

I hope you may all discover this week how to rely on the Savior- how to set goals that will take you higher. He will help us to ascend :)

I love you all! I am loving my mission and loving life. Good luck this week, iedereen.


Zuster McKinney Voss
Zone P-Day

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Always Missionaries (even on P-Day)

Well, we have had a busy week! Full of adventures and miracles.

The first adventure was when we went to Bruges (Brugge) last p=day. There were so many tourists! I heard American English just casually on the street, and it just shocked me. But it was cool because a couple of members of the church who were on vacation approached us to say hi and encourage us to keep up the great work. I love those little moments! We enjoyed walking around touring the beautiful city, taking pictures with the many gorgeous buildings... We also bought chocolate/chocolate covered strawberries, well worth it. The Lokeren sisters and Leuven elders were also there, so we got to enjoy the city at different times with them as well.

I think one of the coolest moments of that day was on our way home, we sat down in a train and the lady across from us asked us a question about our nametags. We started talking with her, and then the lady next to her joined the conversation, and soon the man across the aisle was participating as well! We all enjoyed a pleasant hour chatting about the differences between America and Belgium, religion and how it is culturally regarded here, and we were able to share what we believe, because they were asking us questions! It was a big testimony to me that there are missionary opportunities everywhere, and we are definitely always missionaries, even on our preparation day.
Abbey Road with the elders.

I guess this is the most photographed spot in Brugge. So we added to those stats a lot haha.

Brugge with the random Irish dude. Funny story...
A fancy chocolate shop we discovered!
On Tuesday Sister Johanson came on exchanges with me here to turnhout. We had a great day, and a cool experience being led to the home of a former member of the church through a series of coincidences and good luck. We had a good conversation with him and lesson. All of his family are still members of the church in the United States, and he has been living in Belgium for four years. He also served in this mission six years ago, and served right here in Turnhout. I joked that we probably still have the same Nokia brick phone that he used here in 2009, and when I pulled out, his eyes widened and he was like, "it is! that's the same phone!" lol. #missiontechnology. Anyway, it was an interesting experience, to feel like we were so clearly led there, and a fun exchange with sister Johanson.
Turnhout sign.

Sister Johanson and I in front of majestic Antwerpen Centraal!

Sister Duncan and in In Lokeren station :)
Sister Young and I were together in Turnhout again for a brief day before parting ways again to go on exchanges with the Lokeren sisters. I worked in Lokeren with Sister Duncan, and it is an adorable city, just outside Sint-Niklaas. Sister Ducan is also super dedicated. We worked hard, taught a really cool lesson together, and then I saw a rope swing, so we played hard for two seconds on it too haha.
Swing in Lokeren!
Sister Young and I worked in Turnhout together Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There are prepared people here and we are doing our best to find and teach them and prepare them to make that necessary covenant of baptism with Heavenly Father! On Sunday afternoon we went to visit a family in our branch whose wife/mother had just passed away. I played them a couple of hymns on my violin and we testified about the plan of salvation, that families can be together forever! I hope we were able to support and show our love for them in some way. It really felt like fulfilling our baptismal covenants- to "mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort." (Mosiah 18:8-10).
knocking doors in Brugge!

huge tower in Brugge
I love this work, I love being a missionary and serving the incredible people here. It is a blessing and it is sculpting me into the person that I need to be. I know that God has a plan for each of us, that He loves us. I love Him, and I love all of you. Have a great week iedereen :)

Love, Sister Voss

PS shoutout to the BYU cougars for some awesome wins in football! I may not be in the same country but I get all the updates from our branch president here and my family. woohoo!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Going Forth Boldly!

This was a busy week full of traveling as we went on our first two out of six exchanges this transfer! An exchange is simply where we switch with another companionship or sister for 24 hours for the purpose of training and supporting them- I work with one sister and her companion goes with sister Young, either in their city or ours. It's a really exciting experience and I have already learned a lot. It's such a special opportunity to work with these different sisters!
Sister Huber and I have matching bike skirts, so we purposefully planned on wearing them when we were on exchanges together and some nice girls took this picture for us in front of Antwerpen Centraal!

Monday was pretty chill, but we had a great FHE activity at the church. One of our investigators came, one other member of the ward, and the elders... so we had fun playing a silly game and eating popsicles just with our little group!

We had a normal day in our own city on Tuesday after district meeting. Hilariously the weather changed overnight. I kid you not- Monday was still warm and sunny. Then on September first, schools started all over Belgium, and it immediately became fall- cool, windy and rainy, and that's how it has been the whole week since. It was quite sudden and I think that is how it will stay. We have been blessed with a really mild summer here!
This sign is for my Mom because it's basically her philosophy: "It tastes even better when it's cheap!"
Little Maria shrines are all over Belgium in random little nooks, crannies, neighborhoods... Sister Huber and I discovered this one. It's a Catholic country for sure!
Oh yeah. Tuesday was great though, we checked up on a couple investigators we hadn't seen in a couple of weeks and one of them reads every night in her Book of Mormon and had some great questions for us about it! That was cool. We also found a new potential through our contacting.

On Wednesday I went to work with Sister Stewart-Chester in Gent. It was cool to see her enthusiasim and dedication, and we had a lot of fun working there together! We ended up talking to multiple people about the Gospel while riding on trains as well. Super awesome!
Exchanges selfie with awesome Sister Stewart-Chester!

Thursday found Sister Young and I back together again in Turnhout for the day, which was nice. We had a couple of good lessons, and then an awesome dinner appointment. I misread the bus schedule so we missed the bus, but it was actually only a 20 minute bike ride and it was beautiful, so... hidden blessings? We definitely earned our dinner that night!

Friday was another day on exchanges! Sister Huber came to work with me here in Turnhout. She is the only other sister we know of in this mission with the same bike skirt. so we made sure to coordinate haha. We had a couple of good teaching appointments, and I am really grateful and humbled to see the progress of some of our investigators who take the Gospel so seriously and treat it as something truly important in their lives. That's what it is! Sister Huber and I also knocked on a lot of doors. It's good time to get to know each other if we are chatting as we do it though!

On Saturday morning we switched back in Antwerpen Centraal. Then Sister Young and I went to District Leader Council- to coordinate with the district leaders about the progress of the missionaries. I love being so involved with helping the missionaries themselves grow and progress!

That evening, Sister Young and I visited a food truck festival that was here in Turnhout this weekend. It was super awesome just to walk around and see the variety of cuisine being presented, I felt like I was in a food network dream... Ultimately we choose for a couple of kangaroo sandwiches from the Australian truck and I got a Speculaas cupcake (kind of like cookie butter in America). Anyway, that was really fun!
Food Truck Festival!!! Excellent kangaroo sanwiches and exquisite little cupcakes!

Sunday was a great day of fasting, prayer, and spiritual rejuvenation! Church was very uplifting, and afterwards we were able to do some planning and figure out this next week.

During my personal studies this week I learned a little bit about prophets- that in the general sense, a prophet is anyone who has a received a testimony of Christ through the Holy Spirit. A Hebrew prophet traditionally functioned as one who proclaimed righteousness. helped others restore their faith in God and condemned wickedness. In that sense then, I think all those things apply to us as well! Let us go forth as boldly as they did, building up the faith of others and proclaiming righteousness, relying on a constant stream of personal revelation from the Lord!

I am so grateful to be on my mission. I love this work and these people!

Love,  Zuster McKinney Voss
Lekker sandwiches with the Antwerpen sisters after District Leader Council. 
Happy Birthday SIster Faasavalu!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Incinerating Chocolate

Well, this was a full, busy week! I think we were in the Netherlands for almost as much time as we were in Belgium. Just country hopping... No big deal haha. We had a big zone conference led by Elder Dyches of the second quorum of the Seventy, so that was a super leerrijk (instructive, learning rich) experience!
MLC with Elder Dyches!! I snagged these pictures from the Bunnell's ipad 
That zone conference was in Zoetermeer though, so we crossed the Belgian border in the chillest way possible... we just took a bus to Tilburg and used Dutch trains from there. So that was cool! We stayed with Sister Fleming and Sister Goodman in Dordrecht for two nights in a row, because on Friday we also and Mission Leader Council at the mission home (we sleep over the night before so we don't have to wake up in the middle of the night and travel for hours and hours to get someplace by 9am). Passing through Den Haag for the first time in a couple of months was a weird experience... This city was my home for 4-5 months, but no longer. so crazy! But cool and fun as well.
Sister Manning and SIster Hanny and Sister Fleming
We had a few minutes before our train came... So we walked around a bit in Den Haag! Sister Fleming is fabulous!

Seeing Ethlyn again was awesome!!

Brief glimpse of my Den Haag favorites
Elder Conatti, SIster Nyakoh, Sister Hopkin, and also Sister Young and Elder Bishesar!
By Elder Dyches I was inspired to reach for new heights of obedience and teaching mastery. Simplify, clarify, verify, testify :) It's helpful, because after a year on my mission, I have been feelingthe need for direction in continuing to improve, and his advice was perfect. We will focus this transfer on learning to apply it.

The next day in Mission Leader Council was also inspiring. It was my first time participating, and it helped me understand so much better my calling and purpose- to lead, serve, love, and train those around me. I can't wait to start going on exchanges this week!
Selfie with Sister Watts at MLC
As an added bonus to the edifying conferences, I had the pleasure of seeing several former companions and other friends. We also had dinner at Ethlyn's house onThursday since we were going to be in Nederland anyway... It was really nice!
Sister Dobler and I at Zone Conference

Sister Romig and Sister Bradley! :-)
Then we were finally back in Belgium on Friday night. There was a stake family day activity on Saturday, a really fun opportunity for investigators an members to get together, have a huge picnic, and just chill in the beautiful weather! We really enjoyed it. Sister Young showed off her soccer skills and immediately won the respect of our branch, so I'd call it a success!

And now a language blunder to lighten the mood. An awesome member of our branch, Tommy, likes to make sure we always have Belgian chocolate, so we cme home one evening to a huge stack of delicious real chocolate. Delighted, I texted him "bedankt voor de verassing!" One tiny letter made a critical difference. "verrassing" means "surprise" while "verassen" means "to incinerate." So instead of saying "thanks for the surprise!" I accidentally texted "thanks for the cremation!" I don't think anything more needs to be said. that's one of my best yet!
Sister Young being awesome!
Beautiful house in a convent with sister Young
Stake family day activity- I saw Sister Verdegem!
Trying to use stilts
With Debby Spijkerman at Ehtlyn's house!
Selfie with sisters Bush, Huber Frederickson
I'm grateful to be on my mission, to be serving the wonderful people of Turnhout, Belgium. God's work is going forward in this plentiful corner of the kingdom. As I strive to consecrate myself and my efforts more fully, I'm learning how much I really rely on the grace of my Savior. It isn't enough to serve with my own capacities and abilities. But when I give my best effort and ask Christ and Heavenly Father to make up the rest it is more than enough.

Ik hou van jullie allemaal. Tot volgende week! Success!
Liefs, Zuster McKinney Voss