Zuster Fox?

Zuster Fox?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Getting ready to depart

Well, this is almost it. This Wednesday I report to the office for departing ceremonies there with the other missionaries leaving in my group. I'll remain in the mission actually for the next two weeks in the little known city of... Amsterdam!!! And then my parents will come get me, and shortly thereafter I'll be home. So strange!
What a mission does to a pair of boots...
Dad Note: Shoes worn out in the Service of the Lord!
This past week was great. We were able to gather, simultaneously with missionaries all over the world, to watch the worldwide missionary broadcast. It was inspiring and uplifting! The theme was "teach repentance and baptize converts."We are taught that conversion is a continuing process, as is repentance. We are all constantly striving to turn our hearts to God. If potential converts understand that before baptism, they will already be converted when they are baptized. Repentance is critical for each of us- because we all make mistakes. But we can be free of that burden of sin and be made new. That is what baptism and the sacrament offer! We were instructed as to how we can teach that doctrine more clearly, and I am certain that it will influence retention as those who are baptized truly understand the covenant they are making and have already committed to follow Christ.

Another highlight of the week was with Catherine, Who has been baptized now for a month and a half and is still going strong. The missionaries review all the lessons with converts after baptisms, and we're trying an approach with her where we all study a lesson and then she teaches it to us. She taught us the Restoration incredibly well, and then afterwards remarked that she wished that everyone had this knowledge of God's love. We then asked her if she could think of anyone specifically that she wanted to share it with, and she immediately thought of two neighbors who she wants to visit with us to share this message. It was such a cool moment, the Spirit was strong in prompting her to think of them, and we got two referrals. I love to see that the natural fruits of receiving this happy knowledge is the desire to share it with those we love. After all, that's why I'm here! And the Dutch and Belgian people have truly become those that I love <3
Eating at the Pannekoek Schip!
My miracle sweet stroopwafels
Snow again
At the Romigs
Saying goodbye to members here in Leeuwarden yesterday was sad, but they are so wonderful. I am so grateful I got to serve here in this special area. And I am grateful for technology that makes staying in touch with everyone possible!

Today is my last p-day in Leeuwarden, so Sister Kimmons and I embarked on an adventure this morning to bike out to the doop monument- the monument that marks the place that the first converts of the Church in Nederland were baptized in a canal. We biked for about an hour through beautiful Farmland and were blessed with lovely weather... I'm glad I got to see it! Missionary work has a rich history in this country.
The Doop monument!

Have a wonderful week everyone! Repent daily and find that peace in Heavenly Father. I'm grateful to still be here, but looking forward to seeing you all soon.

All my love, Zuster McKinney Voss
Unhealthy but delicious breakfast: Chocolate Cruesli :)

Time is Short...

It's alarming how little time there is left now. What happened to the time at the beginning of my mission when I saw 18 months stretching out into eternity ahead of me? As excited as I am to be reunited with family and friends at home, I have loved and cherished this unique time on a mission. I have learned so much about myself and the Gospel, and have found lifelong friends and adopted family here in Belgium and the Netherlands. I am eager to serve them with everything I've got for the next couple of weeks, while I still can!
The elders borrowed our bikes but forgot our helmets, so we had to ride without them until we could retrieve them. So we took a picture... It felt so weird not to have them!
We had a great week. President Bunnell has been encouraging us to set and strive for inspired goals over the past few weeks. I love the purposeful, planned approach to missionary work- there is a good, better, and best way to go about things, and being efficient and then working hard is a great way to feel fulfilled!

We had a lesson with the miracle man we found in the ice and rain last week, and he loved the first lesson. When we gave him a Book of Mormon, he was almost shocked that we were offering him something so valuable, and made sure that we both had our own copies at home before he was willing to accept it. I've never had that happen before... And he was eager to read it. Wonderful!
Cows are important to Friesland. Don't worry, no idol worship. 
Funny article. (Headline translated is "Beautiful Assassin")
We also had zone training this week. It was weird to be the "dying" missionary- Elder Frederico and the Romigs and I all had to bear our last testimonies, which was somewhat intimidating. How do you sum up in a few minutes 18 months worth of experiences? But it's amazing how the Spirit guides, and I think we all said some things that surprised us. For me, as I was talking, one of the things I said was Ï know Heavenly Father is proud of the work I've done here." I wouldn't have thought to say that, but I do feel that it's true, and I'm grateful for that confirmation! Further, the zone training was an excellent and inspired evening of instruction from our great zone leaders and sister training leaders. I'm determined to apply what they shared with us. It's never too late to improve!
Zone Training Friends
We also went on exchanges with the Apeldoorn sisters, and I was with Sister Twiggs. It was an adventure getting around, but we saw miracles and had a good time!

Another miracle this week was when we went to visit a girl who had ordered a DVD from the church about a month ago. In general, the policy is to contact these referrals as soon as possible. However, she lives in a dorp about an hour away from Leeuwarden in the middle of nowhere, so it took some time for us just to figure out how to get there. When we finally did last week, we were surprised to discover that the DVD, which is normally delivered through the mail, had never come! So we returned this week, and found her waiting and eager to receive us. In the meantime, she had done tons of online research about the church and had a positive impresseion. We watched the DVD with her, and she asked tons of questions that led to us teaching her the complete message of the Restoration. I wasn't sure if she would really be interested in anything more, but it felt right, so at the end of the lesson I still extended to her the invitation to be baptized. She enthusiastically affirmed that if she received an answer, she absolutely would. She knows there is something out there but wasn't sure what, so it was a joy to testify to her that God is our loving Heavenly Father, and that she could communicate with Him through prayer. We are excited to continue working with her!
We were both born in Texas! Sister Kimmons shows her Texan pride by proudly hanging the flag in every apartment.
Further... Life is fantastic. Even when it doesn't aways go how we plan, I know that through Christ we can continue to feel peace. John 14:27- the peace He offers us is entirely different than what the world offers. I have felt that peace even in turbulent times, and I know it's accessible to all of us.

Have a wonderful week! Ik hou van jullie.


Zuster McKinney Voss

Monday, January 25, 2016


Well, this has been one of the craziest weeks of my mission, weather-wise! But it made it pretty exciting. Sister Kimmons and I really enjoyed playing in the snow on our p-day last Monday-- I took her sledding for her first time, and we had a snowball fight- it was delightful!
Biking in the snow.
However, that night, everything FROZE. We woke up to what I imagine was a pretty realistic recreation of the winter wonderland Elsa created in Frozen. But of course, as naïve missionaries with no access to the internet, we had no idea how bad it really was. All we knew was that the parking lot of our building was one solid sheet of ice, but we were determined to get to district meeting, as usual. So we joined the many throngs of people walking (biking and driving were sketchy) and made or way to the station and caught one of the few and infrequent trains to Groningen that day. It wasn't until we got there and were informed that there were no buses running at all in the entire province that we realized how bad the actual situation was, and it was around that time that our leaders called, concerned about us traveling. But we were already in Groningen... So our district leaders walked with us to the Romig's and we all had lunch and a short district meeting, before President Bunnell called and asked that we all go to the houses of the Groningen missionaries and remain inside for the rest of the day due to the weather situation.
Skating on the street.
As it turns out, it was a code red weather emergency, declared for all of the Northern Netherlands. In the word's of Elder Bonner, one of the APs, "They drew a line across the top of the country and everything above that line is in super duper ice danger. And you are above that line." Woohoo! unaware missionary life. So slipping and sliding, we made our way with the Groningen sisters to their apartment, past the children literally ice skating on the Streets and pulling each other in sleds. We did our best to have a productive afternoon studying inside, and it was a really fun unexpected sleepover situation, we were glad we made the best of it!

Wednesday, the weather was similar. School and everything was cancelled in this part of the country, and buses and trains were not running much better. Getting back to Leeuwarden and one appointment here were the most productive things we could safely manage on that day. A bit frustrating to be stuck inside, but again, we did our best to plan and prepare and use the time well.

Thursday was a miracle day. The weather was as menacing as ever- still slippery, icy, cloudy, freezing and rainy, not a significant improvement from the previous couple of days, and all the appointments we had planned cancelled, even those with members, and I don't blame them- transportation was still unreliable. But we were still determined to go out! Looking out our window did not make me very excited, but we sat down and planned who we could visit and where we could go in the area, and got out and got to work.

And it was incredible! Everyone we talked to that day was positive and kind. We had set the goal to find at least three potential investigators by the end of the day, and we made it! One of the first miracles was Jetske- a sweet woman we started talking to just as we were walking. We asked her what brought her happiness, and after an insightful answer, she actually asked us the same question back! Very thoughtful, and a first for me on my mission. We had a good conversation, but she had to continue on. However, a little bit later, we ran into each other in the neighborhood again! this time she felt impressed to invite us to her home, so we walked with her there, and it was such a tender mercy. We were so cold, and so we were able to warm up with some herbal tea, and she had tons of questions that led to us being able to share the Restoration with her.

Another miracle occurred as we were walking in the misty freezing rain. We began talking with a young man who was amazed by the missionary work we do, and eager to tell us his own conversion story and belief in God. It was inspiring to hear his testimony, and we shared ours. In the end, we said a prayer together before parting, exchanged information, and we have an appointment with him this week to share more. So cool.

That evening we dropped by a former investigator who we hadn't heard from in a couple of months. She was home but exhausted from her internship and children. However, we were able to persuade her to let us help her at least fold laundry, which we happily did together for a little while, and she offered us dinner as well. By the time we left with a prayer, she was much less overwhelmed, and the Spirit was strong. It wasn't a lesson, but it was the kind of simple service I feel like Christ would have offered, and we were happy to have been at the right place at the right time to help her.

So yeah! Heavenly Father definitely helped us overcome the weather and stay safe that day, and I am humbled by the miracles we saw. the next day, the temperatures rose (from -6 Celsius to 10 degrees! pretty dramatic) and the snow and ice was like a bad dream, and normal life resumed. The moral of Frozen is true... love thaws :) But it was all pretty exciting!

The rest of our week went well too! Another investigator we hadn't seen for a while surprisingly just showed up at church, so that was cool! We re-established contact and should be meeting again this week. Also, I gave a talk in church- probably my last as a missionary. Such a strange feeling!

All is well in Zion! It's hard to believe that these 18 months are ending, that it's less than a month that I have left here in these beautiful countries! But I am inspired and encouraged to keep working hard, to give everything I have until the end.

I love you all! have a wonderful week. Love, Sister Voss

Gelukkig Nieuwe Jaar!

Gelukkig Nieuwe Jaar, iedereen! I hope you all had wonderful New Year's celebrations, but I doubt they were as exciting as mine! This country goes hardcore, and everyone buys their own fireworks, so at midnight on New Year's Eve (and the two days before and after, actually) the city explodes! New Year's eve was actually a special experience, because we had to be inside our apartments at 4:00 for safety reasons, and were invited by President Bunnell to join in a mission-wide goal-setting extravaganza. I got to ponder and set goals for the next 3, 10, and 25 years, and I must say that while it was cool to see where I'm going, it was also a bit intimidating, and that's how I fell asleep for the little nap we took before being awoken by the fireworks at midnight.
Baby Cow!

However, as we gazed from our eighth story height at the panoramic spectacular display, the sky lit up by beautiful colors and designs non-stop for at least thirty minutes, my heart swelled in excitement for the coming year, for the future in general. Witnessing the exultant joy of everyone celebrating the new year, a new chance, a new day renewed my hope and perspective as well. As a cool lady we recently met just told us, "Ï don't know what the future holds, but I do know Who holds the future." This coming year might be full of change and growth, and I don't know what's coming, but I do know that as we trust in God, He will guide us and help us to reach our potential. I can't possibly describe the fireworks in any way to do them justice, and the videos and pictures don't do it either. I'm just grateful I got to experience that. Nederland knows how to ring in the New Year in style! Happy 2016!

We had some miracles this week. We went back out to an area (way in the middle of farm fields) where we had received several referrals, to someone we had made an appointment with there. We decided to bike instead of take the bus so that we could talk to people along the way which was part of the cool experience- we met several kind though uninterested people, one of whom was a woman who spoke only Fries! Which is a completely different language. We could understand each other but we really had to open our minds to her accent and vocabulary. Still, it was cool, and once again a beautiful area. 
New Years Eve!

The aftermath...
We finally got to our appointment on the dairy farm, and it was incredible! He had absolutely no religious background, but was so open and searching for the truth, for peace and happiness. We were delighted to tell him where he could find those things and how, and shared our own testimonies and experiences... 

He asked the perfect questions.
How can I find peace and happiness?
through prayer and developing that relationship with God and Christ.
How do I pray then? (we explained it) Okay, I'll definitely try it. How can I recognize an answer?
through the Holy Ghost, etc.

We are excited to keep teaching him! That is a golden area. We ended up biking over 35km that day, but it was so worth it.

The weather here has been chilly, but actually relatively warm for this area at this season at this time for the past few weeks. However, at the end of this past week it got dramatically and suddenly colder. So this morning, Sister Kimmons and I woke up to a winter wonderland of snow! It was delightful, and we made a snowman. However, yesterday it was cold, and Sister Kimmon's bike broke, and we wouldn't be able to get it fixed until today. So we braced ourselves to a day of walking, and saw more miracles! We talked to people on the way and knocked doors as we walked, and that led to us meeting a wonderful woman named Harriett. she is also super christian, let us in, gave us hot chocolate to warm up, and we were all able to share our testimonies of Christ with each other. God bless these good people!
We named him Olaf.

We saw miracles in this tiny dorpje!
On New Year's Day we had an appointment with a sweet lady we had met on the bus, and we not only got to teach her and her husband, but other friends kept coming by to wish them a Happy New Year, so we got to talk to and get to know a lot of other people as well, through them. Blessings! Heavenly Father puts us in the right place at the right time to reach a lot of people!

This week we also had interviews with President Bunnell. I know he is inspired of God, and his counsel is always exactly what I need to hear.

Also, our zone leaders Reese and Hosea came to work with us, helping us with a lesson and sharing a bit more about the zone vision. We appreciate their support as well. :)
Hema Hot Dogs Together
Eating traditional olliebollen (fried balls of dough covered in powdered Sugar, mmm) on new year's Eve!
I love you everyone! Hope all is well and that you are all equally excited for this new year. It is going to be full of adventure!

Zuster McKinney Voss
With the zone leaders

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Kerst 2015

Oh, it was indeed a fijne kerst here in Leeuwarden! It is Always interesting to adapt our activities to the holiday season, when fewer people are home and we want to respect Christmas traditions- we had a wonderful week though, visiting those who were alone or needed love. I think some of the best moments were visiting some older, single sisters in our branch with the elders to carol to them. that's definitely one way to get that warm fuzzy feeling! The Spirit of Christmas is the Spirit of Christ, and when we serve others the way He would, we will always feel the warm smile of His approval. I have really learned that this season is a time to look outside of myself and what I want and truly focus on others! It's wonderful to really internalize that lesson now, because it's something we can apply every day of the year, not just around Christmas.
Thanks mom, dad, and everybody!
This week also included going on exchanges with sister Jensen, which was a Delight. We had some cool experiences contacting- chatting with the girl across from us on the train who ended up accepting a Book of Mormon, and exchanging ideas with a cool man from Indonesia a little bit later as we were walking along. Miracles do happen, especially around Christmas!
Exchanges with Zuster Jensen again this week!

Christmas itself was wonderful. We were blessed to spend it with familie Stein, who were so kind and wonderful. I had a great Skype with my family. Kind of strange to talk to them so soon before I'll see them again... my February deadline is looming. But it also just felt natural and lovely. I am grateful to have this chance to serve, but I know that it will be good to be with my family again at the right time. In any case, it was a precious moment and a wonderful Christmas present to see them!
My best Christmas Gift 2015
Christmas morning!

With familie Stein and the elders

We have received so, so many sweets and snacks this past week. Fortunately my amazing sister sent me a workout plan for the next month that includes squats, push-ups, sit-ups and calf raises to keep me from getting too out of shape. However, as far as leg workouts go, I must say that I've found a regimen that is foolproof and all encompassing, and I've been following it strictly for the past several months. It's called "biking against the wind everywhere you need to go all day every day." I thoroughly recommend it to anyone wondering how to get a fuller leg workout. just come live in the Netherlands in the winter! :)

Christmas Eve dinner: mashed potatoes and rookworst!
Christmas morning elevator picture

This week I was studying submissiveness as a Christlike attribute- that willingness to say to God, "thy will be done"at all times. Some thoughts I had/things are learned are that obedience brings order and peace- it brings security. As we hearken and yield, our hearts are purified and sanctified (Helaman 3:35). Submissiveness requires faith and humility, trust that God knows best- and our submissiveness is a sign that we are loyal to and love Him. And as we put our own selfish desires aside in order to accommodate others and prevent contention, we will also be blessed.
Christmas Ninjas!

In front of a local coffeeshop. ahem. sketch... (Dad Note: Apparently they sell marajuana there...)


Good luck setting goals for the next year everybody! I can't believe 2016 is almost here already. I have learned and grown a lot over the past year, and I will treasure 2015 as the year I gave up completely to God and let Him make me more into what I need to be. I pray that I may continue to do that a little more every year. I am so grateful that our loving Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us!

Veel liefs van Nederland,
Zuster McKinney Voss

 Quick, someone photoshop a lightsaber into my hands! This one is a shoutout to my fantastic and sometimes nerdy family