Thursday, October 12, 2017

October 10,2017 Email :D


What?! Has Sister Van Valkenburg lost her marbles?! Nope! Thanksgiving here in Canada is October 9th. Weird. I know. I kept getting freaked out with people celebrating Thanksgiving...thinking I missed the whole months of October and November! Haha! Time really is flying by though! I hit my halfway mark on Saturday...that was really weird! We celebrated by going to KFC...a little piece of home. But KFC here in Canada has just completely messed up because they don't have BISCUITS!!!!!! That's literally the main reason we decided to go to KFC!!! We were sorely disappointed. :( But it's okay!! :) 

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we have been sharing a fun message with members about happiness and gratitude. We have been singing a lot and sang "Count your Blessings" with the accompanying scripture:

D&C 78:17-19 
17 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;

18 And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.

19 And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.

 Isn't that such a gem?! Another gem from this week was something that Sister Giles shared in her talk on Sunday! I was supposed to speak, but because I was already singing, I was asked to speak next week instead! She gave her talk on seeking happiness and finding the good in life. She shared a really sweet quote: "happiness is like a butterfly. If we chase it, it will allude us. But if we sit and enjoy the beauty around us, it will come and sit on our shoulder." Something along those lines. It's so true, though! As we chase after things, they may float away. But there are so many miracles and beautiful things that surround us every single day!! Got has given us so much!! "He has showed us how to be happy, we just need to follow." -Sister Giles
We had Zone Conference this last week as well! President Wong is so hilarious!! He told us again the analogy of the turkey. There was a meeting of all the turkeys, teaching them how to fly! They went to the meeting, learned to fly (it was amazing!!!) and then they all walked out of the meeting. He keeps telling us two things: 
1) Don't be a turkey! President Wong told us that if we are caught being turkeys that he will order a special name tag for us that instead of "Sister Van Valkenburg" says "Turkey Van Valkenburg" Nobody will know the difference on the street, he said! And he will make us wear it for a whole transfer!! No bueno!! I promised I wouldn't be a turkey! I might be out of the loop though, because he told me (in front of the whole zone) that I especially couldn't be a turkey because they might be able to fit it on my name tag XD
2) chop chop!! (He had every language spoken in our zone come up and say "chop chop" at the same time in their language.Trying to prove a point here: We need to be urgent!)
Something I also loved about Zone Conference: There was an analogy given about running track. When running a lap in track, you have checkpoints of where you want to be at certain points of your run. 'at 20 seconds I want to be here, and 40: here' etc. The Elder giving the training said that at each checkpoint, you need to course correct. If you haven't reached your desired time, you know that you need to make it up before the next checkpoint. It's like that with our personal goals. As we set goals for ourselves, we need to make checkpoints and re-evaluate at every turn! We don't give up if we haven't been able to reach our desired goal at our checkpoint, but we refocus and push harder! It was really cool to hear! :) 
Oh! Like I said, I have been singing a lot! The night before Zone Conference at like 10:00 we got a phone call from Elder Deppe (District Leader) "Sisters! We need your help!" They asked us to do a musical number for Zone Conference! Elder Deppe and I ended up singing a duet of "Joseph Smith's first prayer" to the tune of "If you could High to Kolob" It was beautiful! I got a video of it so I'll show about 9 months XD I also sang a duet with Elder Deppe in church Sunday. It's called "Because He Lives" It's BEAUTIFUL!! We will sing it next Sunday as well at a stake fireside. I'll see if I can get a video of that as well. 
Quote of the week from my Bishop: "Duct tape your face to the grindstone!" Haha he went on to talk about how that's why we have companions: To help with the duct tape. Oh man XD
Inline image 1We went bowling as a zone for p-day last week! Here is a shot of the sisters! We are just missing one companionship.
Most of the zone is here in this pic!
Inline image 2And a nice personality shot! From left to right: Elder Deppe, me, Elder Mathews, Sister Bak, and Sister Hatch
 Thanksgiving dinner was spent with our sweet investigator Donna (in pic) and her miracle daughter I've written about, Tianna. Here's a pic of the spread! Donna is a raw food chef, and the pumpkin pie pictured is raw. It was actually pretty good!

I found a big gun thingie at a military base here! ....that's about all I know...but is was cool! 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

October 2,2017 Email :D


Sorry about the long title! It's how I feel! :) Haha! 

Oh I am just on cloud 9 this week!! We have had such an amazing week full of miracles!! It has really grown my testimony to see how much Heavenly Father truly blesses us when we are about His errand!! During my stay here in Victoria, we haven't had too much success in finding new people to teach, or even keeping our teaching pool moving forward. BUT we have been working our tails off to move this work forward! As our ward mission plan moves forward, we are also focusing on new ways of finding new people to teach! 

Heavenly Father truly blessed us to see the fruits of our labors this week!! I have compiled a list of miracles!! (though some, I will admit, are not completely related to missionary work)

Miracle 1: We went on exchanges, and though I haven't ridden a bike in quite literally YEARS....I was able to go bike riding for our workout!! I am honestly amazed that I was able to get back home! haha!

Miracle 2: When we were on exchanges, Sister Giles and Sister Avila were able to set a BAPTISMAL DATE with our sweet investigator, Julie! I am so excited for her and her sweet children!! Though she is the only one on date now, I'm sure that her kids will soon follow! It fills my heart with so much joy when people step closer and closer to Jesus Christ!!

Miracle 3: This actually happened a couple weeks ago, but we got a referral from church headquarters!! A lady called and was having a bad day, and then ended up asking for missionaries to come see her! We, of course, responded instantly! Haven't been able to get in contact for a couple of weeks...but we did this week!! It was amazing!! We went to her door and she answered, instantly welcoming us in!! She is so open to learn and is so excited to attend church!! She has grown up around LDS members and just knows that what she needs right now, she is going through a messy divorce, is God! I am so grateful for the MIRACLE of being able to teach her!!

Miracle 4: Members are calling us to feed us meals!! Like what?!? That's a miracle and a half! ;)

Miracle 5: We were able to meet with our sweet investigator, Frances, who is going through a lot financially. She was talking to us about the Book of Mormon. We didn't know anything about how her reading was going the past week...and were surprised to hear this amazing testimony come out of her! She said that through the struggles that she is facing, she is finding peace through the Book of Mormon!! She hugs it and prays, or randomly opens it to find a verse or two and instantly can feel the peace and love that only Heavenly Father can send her through the Holy Ghost! She recognizes that feeling, and longs for it every day! It draws her back to the Book of Mormon and to church! The spirit was so strong as she told of her feelings and experiences!! I am so grateful that Heavenly Father is able to touch the lives of all of us through the pages of this book! It is truly individually for each and every single one of us! 

Miracle 6: We were able to set a baptismal date with Frances for November 11th!! I am so excited for her!!

Miracle 7: Frances again! She came to General Conference with her daughter and granddaughter who are now also in our teaching pool! She is spreading her light for all those around her to partake of the feelings she has from the light of the gospel!! I am so happy!!

Miracle 8: This one is a longer one. This Friday, a woman visiting from Alberta went into a bank here in Victoria. She was talking to the bank teller, Michelle, and the topic of religion somehow came up. "I'm a Mormon" she said. MiChelle said to her, "wow! I've never had a friend that is Mormon." the lady said "Well, you do now!" and gave her her name to add on Facebook. It changed MiChelle's life! She said that it was just the nicest thing for the lady to say that they were friends! She went home and tried to find her on Facebook, but couldn't. So...she figured she would look up "" She talked to a wonderful missionary on the phone, who directly called my District Leader. He came to us in person, telling us of this wonderful lady we had to go see as soon as possible! We took off 5 minutes later to see Michelle! She welcomed us with open arms at her door saying "that was fast!" We taught her the message of the Restoration, committed her to read the Book of Mormon, and invited her to be baptized right there! She accepted and is praying about October 28th!! It was amazing!! 

Miracle 9: MiChelle came to General Conference for the Saturday Morning session!!

Miracle 10: We have a sweet investigator named Tianna. I shared her amazing story last week! She hung out with us sisters all through the Saturday sessions of conference and in-between!! Such a sweetheart!! She's 13 years old and came by herself to conference!! THAT is a miracle!! :)

Oh there are just so many miracles in our lives every single day, and I am so grateful for the blessing of being here in Victoria to see the hand of God in every aspect of my life! Sometimes we don't see it right away, but I know that as we look back, we can always see how He has moved the chess pieces right where they needed to be! I love my Savior and am so grateful for all that He has done, and continues to do, for me! I'm so grateful for the knowledge that we have about the great Plan of Redemption that we are all able to partake of! I'm grateful for each and every on e of you and the blessings that you are in my life!! Keep smiling! Keep serving! Keep loving with all your hearts!! 

Sister Van Valkenburg
Korean Barbecue!!
My bugogi! (totally spelled the wrong...)
Me, Sister Young Mi Yoon, and Sister Giles!!! So fun!! 

Monday, September 25, 2017

September 25,2017 Email :D

I could just leave my email as the heading and just....YES!! I am so excited for General Conference!!! I love the spirit and revelation that comes from hearing the words of our dear prophet and leaders of the church!!! I know I said this last conference, but I would encourage all of you as you prepare for General Conference to ponder about and right down one or two questions of your soul that you would love an answer to! From my own personal experience and my testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ and how much Heavenly Father knows and loves each of us SO MUCH...I can promise that you will receive an answer!! It's so beautiful! 

This week I was so excited to watch Women's Conference I could almost not contain myself!! I am so grateful for the spirit that unites each and every one of us! There is a special unity, of course, that comes from the women as the church as we gather together to be edified and learn! As the choir opened with "Let Zion in her Beauty Rise" It was absolutely electrifying!! I just looked over at Sister Giles to see that she was just beaming too! The session was so good, with so many golden nuggets! I especially loved a quote I wrote down from Sister Jay D. Jones' talk.

"As the Savior lifts us, we can see more clearly. Not only who we are, but that we are closer to Him than we ever imagined."

SO GOOD!!! :D It is so true!

We had a miracle in our District this week! (one of the many, of course) But the Elders have been getting referrals like CRAZY and we just get the glorious opportunity to teach many of the referrals they receive. This last week, that got a referral from a member in Duncan that knew of a 13-year-old girl in the hospital and her single mom. The Elders went to the hospital and were able to give them both a Priesthood blessing. It went really well, and the girl and her mom excitedly asked to meet the Elders again the next day. They did, and because the girl, Tianna, was released from the hospital on Friday, she was able to come to church yesterday!! Tianna is the sweetest thing ever! Her mom couldn't make it, as she has some health concerns of her own, but Tianna came BY HERSELF to church. She sat with me and Sister Giles, attended all 3 meetings, and even went around meeting people with us. I would shake someone's hand and turn to her, and she would stick out her hand "Hi! I'm Tianna!" Her first day at church and she bore her testimony in Sunday school, sang the hymns like a pro, read scriptures and just loved it. I love her dearly and pray I can have the zeal that she has! She is golden and I am so grateful Heavenly Father has blessed me with her! She asked Sister Giles yesterday "Can I be an Elder?" "No, but you can be a Sister!" Sister Giles said. And indeed, I know someday she will be! :) 

I had some fun experiences with new drinks this week! Below I have pictured a fun drink that originates in Quebec. There is a nice member that owns a poutine shop here in Victoria and always feeds the missionaries for free! So we hustled on over there last week and enjoyed some poutine with this signature drink. It's basically like drinking a tree..a Christmas tree! A very strong, particular taste. 

There is a fun family that we have been visiting the past couple of weeks that are SO COOL!! They're Quakers. (Kind of irrelevant to the story, but I think it's cool) We dropped by the other night, and they talked to us on the porch. They were eating rootbeer floats with a different kind o soda, and the dad got really excited!! He was like "I made it myself! You've got to try it!!" He came back with two, little glasses and was like "That's all we have left" Guilt trip if I've ever seen one! He called it Ginger Beer, and as we sipped at it, it tasted pretty similar to the spruce beer...but...ginger. :) Sister Giles just couldn't even handle it...I just drank it quick. He explained how he made it a jar...and it ferments....uh oh! Did we just break the word of wisdom?!?! I don't know!! All I know is that I was totally sick throwing up that night and I've got a new story to tell! :O Ginger beer my warned!!

Wow. Our ward mission plan (that I may have mentioned before) is getting right along!! We have a special Ward council every other week just to talk about missionary work, and we launched it yesterday! We have all these tri-fold pamphlets (glossy paper, the works!) handed out to the auxiliaries and they are now meeting with their presidencies and quorums to get us names and action plans going!! I am SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!! I know that Heavenly Father can help us reach our goals as we put this plan into action!!

I love the gospel!! I love missionary work and the opportunity that we all have every day to share the gospel with somebody!! Let's use it!! 


Sister Van Valkenburg

Sunday, September 24, 2017

September 18,2017 Email :D

I realized this morning that exactly 8 months ago I entered the! Time flies when you're in the service of your felling beings! ;) 

This last week we had so many fun activities!! Which is SO GOOD because as missionaries we are really trying to push activities to invite people out to! We started it off with a fun FHE activity at the church. We invited a bunch of families with young kids to come and bring chalk and had some treat assignments. We drew the Plan of Salvation and had so much fun! There is a man in the ward that makes things out of balloons and the kids loved all the fun hats and animals he made for them! So fun! The next day, we had the ward potluck!! We as missionaries sang and I was able to sing a solo and duet with an Elder in my district. It was so fun!! There was a great turnout and we are going to do it every month now!! We were also able to help with the food drive this week and have a fun ward corn roast after! Wow!! So many fun things!! ....just realized I didn't take any sorry about that.

We had a fun miracle this last week that I would LOVE to share!! We were visiting with our sweet investigator Julie, single mom of 5 kids, and were talking about ways that we could help her sweet kids to learn better about the gospel. Two of them are dyslexic and they all pretty much have anxiety and depression and it's just a hard setup for the sweet family. We learned that Jessie, the oldest, used to take piano and Julie mentioned that she was happier then. Now, she won't even go to school. She refuses. SO that was on our minds, and when we left the house, we decided to go across the street to drop by a potential. Her name is Julianne and she is a preacher for her church. Not only was she made a new investigator from our visit (that's right. A preacher, and she is open to hearing our messages that will CHANGE. HER. LIFE) but as we visited, Sister Giles was prompted to ask if she teaches piano, noticing a keyboard in the corner. She said no, but that if we knew somebody who would like to learn, they were welcome to have her piano. Just like that, the Lord blessed us with a piano for Jessie! We were able to pick it up on Saturday with her mom, and the look of gratitude in her eyes and the feeling of love that was in the room, I will never forget!! 

Speaking of pianos, a cool insight this week was given to me from a speaker in sacrament meeting *aka one of the best times of the entire week* He went and played a C and a B (right under it) together. Kind of a sour tone. And he said that that in music is called dissonance. That it just sounds off. But, he said, when you add some more notes, or information, (playing a C chord with it CEGBC) that it makes a beautiful sound. It's similar in the gospel. Sometimes we hear something that just doesn't resonate with us. It makes us kind of cock our head and wonder about it. But as we pray and sincerely seek to know what is true, searching the scriptures and the resources that God has provided us with, that we will receive the answers that we need and it will become beautiful to us. So cool!So true!!

A fun quote from President Eyring resonated with me this week. 
"You hold in your hands the happiness of more people than you can imagine."

Wow. What do we hold in our hands? Obviously it could mean the Book of Mormon. We also hold our phones...generally. What could you share with someone this week that could bring them that complete eternal happiness that comes from the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ? :) 

I love you all so much! Keep loving and serving!!

Sister Van Valkenburg

Sorry this is the only pic I've got this week...but at the ward potluck, the balloon man made me a set of wings! Haha so funny!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

September 11,2017 Email :D

Oh my goodness! You know, sometimes you don't realize that something is missing in your life until you find it again. In my last area, we didn't listen to at all. We used transit to get everywhere and I just never really put it on in the apartment. I know. Not like me. But with this new transfer, I have music back! We are driving around in the car singing, I am able to sing a solo and duet in a potluck tomorrow, I'm playing the piano to accompany people and for Relief Society...and I just got here! I feel like myself again and I didn't even realize that music was missing. Well, now it is in full swing and I am so so grateful! My testimony of music and the spirit that it brings is growing so much and I am so grateful for yet another way that heavenly Father has allowed us to communicate to Him and feel of His Spirit! Such a blessing!!

As I was reading the Book of Mormon this week, and though I don't have any specifics,!!! The Book of Mormon truly is the word of God and fills your heart with so much joy!! I strive to find at least one thing Heavenly Father is trying to teach me on each page. What helps y'all with your studies? :) 

Let me tell you...the work is rolling forth here in Victoria!! This ward is AMAZING!! We meet with the Bishop every week just as missionaries to talk about the work, all the ward missionaries come to our meetings, we go out every Wednesday with members to visit other members! It's so cool!! Members come to the church with names of people they feel inspired to see, we pair up and go out for a couple hours!! We expect to have at least 10 couples this week. We are having a ward potluck Tuesday, tonight we are having a huge combined family home evening, Sister Giles (my new companion whom I love dearly) and I are planning a gallery walk/talent show and starting up an art class. The food drive is on Saturday too and we are having a corn roast! There is hockey on Thursdays, Basketball on Wednesday and so much more in the works!! We see so many blessings each day as we just build the ward and referrals and baptisms are on their way!! I love it!

Sorry I don't have much else to say today...but oh goodness I am so happy and grateful to be here!! I love this gospel and love the miracles we see each day of God working in our lives!! Keep smiling!!

Sister Van Valkenburg

Also, my new address if anyone wants to send letters :) 

Walking around on the trails :)
I love these flowers!
A little example of how big the mosquitoes are bueno!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

September 4,2107 Email :D

Island Girl!

Hello hello!
We will be short today because my mind is just a jumble!! Transfer calls came, and I have been called to go to Victoria!! That's on Vancouver Island and is apparently BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!! I can't wait! I know that Heavenly Father calls us exactly where we need to go!!
This picture sums up my week! The two on the left are the Mims. I love them to pieces! They are some of the best fellowshippers and missionary minded people I know!! We need people like them in the world! Next to me is Sister Kim. I love her so much as well and can't wait to see what Heavenly Father has in store for her! She is an amazing missionary and so talented! Her testimony can move mountains! On the right is Teresa. :) Teresa will be baptized in 2 weeks and I am SO SAD I will miss it! I have been able to see her grow from someone who was quite down and not knowing where to go, to a beautiful glowing disciple of Jesus Christ!! She knows what she wants and she knows where she is going. She is amazing! <3

I'll keep it short for today, but I just want y'all to know that I know this church is true!! No matter what we go through, we WILL overcome. Through Christ! Have a great week :)

Sister Van Valkenburg

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

August 28,2017 Email :D

Oh man! After this Zone Conference, I feel like a new missionary!! I feel like that probably after every Zone Conference...but still! This one changed the course of my mission! :)

We started off the conference with a story from the Assistants to the President. They were going out finding one day with some Zone Leaders, only having 30 minutes, and were challenged as they left by President Wong to contact as many people as they could. They took the challenge to heart, and planned literally every minute of their finding, for each companionship, and then went out and worked for the 30 minutes! They did a facebook challenge over the phone with ward members, talked to an entire soccer team and invited them to come play soccer at the church and talked to people on the street in between. They got a lot of solid potentials and referrals, and by the end of the 30 minutes had contacted over 900 people!! That's how Zone Conference started!! Then, we went into an awesome basketball game, literally Elders vs Sisters basketball game arranged by President Wong, and learned SO MUCH from the analogies that he presented! Things such as passing the ball before you shoot, rebounding, and using the area. It was amazing.

After the basketball games, we all sat down and watched a short video presentation on the 4 minute mile. The gist of it is that running a mile in 4 minutes used to be fantasy. NOBODY could do it! for years! Then one day, somebody did. Right after that, people were breaking it over and over and over again!! CRAZY!! Because it became possible. President Wong related this to our finding. We have had a goal as a mission for I don't know how long to get 3 new investigators a week per companionship. We haven't been hitting it. He encouraged us to raise our vision and break our "4 minute mile" By the end of next transfer, he has put a plan into place for us to be finding 8 new investigators per week! I know that we can do it with the help of our Heavenly Father!! I am SO EXCITED!!!

Oh there were so many more gems that happened at Zone Conference!! ...I suppose I will share them another time. :) But WOW!! So cool!!!

As I was reading through my study journal this past week, I read a passage where I wrote "At one point..." but read it as "Atone point" I was so confused! And then I realized at a different level why I can be confused at that statement. True, there was an "atoning point" when Jesus suffered for our sins, but EVERYTHING He did was for us! Is for us! And contrary to other religions where they believe in being saved at a certain time, where that one time the Atonement is for them, we know that our whole lives, our whole existence is our "Atone point." It's ALL for us! 24/7!! I'm so grateful for my Savior and all that He does for me! Because of Him I have access to Heavenly power and love every second of my life! We are so blessed :)

Another little nugget from Zone Conference...we were reading Alma chapter 8. When we got to verse 14, we talked about the words "weighed down." We looked at it from the point of lifting weights. One of the Elders said that being weighed down is when you're trying to push the weight back up. No matter how heavy the load, we need to keep pushing! :) Eventually, with the help of the Savior and our BEST effort, the weight WILL be lifted!!

I love it! I wanted to close this email with a MIRACLE!!!!!!! :D

There is a sweet lady, a recent convert, in our ward named Sandra Humphrey. She is from the Caribbean and has been here for over 3 years on dialysis 5 days a week waiting for a kidney transplant. She was here on vacation visiting her brother when she got sick and has been stuck here in Canada for the 3 years. Every time we visit her, she has just talked about faith. She has faith that everything will work out as it needs to. Her life is in God's hands! WELL....this week she called us. SHE GOT A KIDNEY!!!!!!!! Surgery was Saturday and she is recovering well in the hospital! We will go see her today! :) I love this woman so much and just cried when I found out that she was able to receive the kidney! We are praying each day that it takes well, and that she will be able to return to her home and 6 kids someday. :) God is so good!

OH! And ANOTHER MIRACLE!!! Remember the lady that I felt prompted to bring my water bottle for? That had the broken leg? Leslie? Well, she texted us this week and said she was so grateful and wants to meet up for coffee!! Oh I am so excited!!!!!!! :D :D :D

Have an amazing week everyone!!
Sister Van Valkenburg

We went bowling last P-day! It was a blast!!! My shoes were slightly less magnificent than the was my score...but we all had a blast and were given the same fair chances to be successful! ...kinda like life, eh? We don't all have fancy shoes, but we have the same chance to have a good game. :) Food for thought!
We heart attacked our dear investigator Bev's door! :) Love her!

So this tree is right by our apartment and we walk by it at least 2 times every single day. I think about this tree branch a lot. It is still hanging on to the tree, but is broken off just enough that it is dying. The rest of the tree is green! I think about that and how it could apply to my life. How many times am I still a part of the tree, but I have allowed myself to be broken off, just enough that I don't get the nutrients I need? Jacob 5 anyone? ;) We met a lady this week that is a less active member. She used to be REALLY active, and for the past 6 or 7 years has just...stopped. As we talked, she said that she has no excuse. She doesn't know why she has gone less active! So...she's going to start reading the Book of Mormon again today and come to church in a couple weeks when she gets back into town! So good! Another lady that I know goes to church each week, loves it, even taught Relief Society last Sunday and gave an amazing lesson!But when we saw her in her home, she admitted to us that her BoM reading is at a standstill. Her husband isn't reading either and is too tired in the mornings to come to church. They are still aprt of the tree! Both ladies! But in their own ways, they aren't receiving the nutrients! As they both begin to read the scriptures, and continue to come to church, I am so excited to see their testimonies start sprouting again! To begin reconnecting themselves to the tree and receive the nutrients that they so desperately need! Again, food for thought. :)