Wednesday, November 15, 2017

November 14,2017 Email :D

Hello sweet family and friends!!

Another wonderful week of miracles has come and gone and I'm so grateful for everything Heavenly Father has blessed me with!!

We started off with Monday, having a wonderful dinner with a family in the ward. They had invited MariLou to join us, but she couldn't. We had a lesson with her that evening, though! The girls of the family were so cute! They were so interested in our names and where they come from, we each shared tidbits. Bloomfield is a city in New Mexico named after Sister Bloomfield's great...something grandpa. And I informed them that there is a Valkenburg city with a small castle thingie in the Netherlands. The girls were so in awe! It was so cute! One of them, the oldest, at age 10 came up to us and said "I don't really know how to say this...but...are you important?" Such a perfect opportunity for Heavenly Father to work through us! We were able to bear testimony of the fact that she too, is just as important because of the name that she has to represent her family and her heritage and her heavenly family and heritage as well! It was so neat. :) It was so cool! Sister Bloomfield told me later that her parents were just beaming, and after that lesson, the dad did everything he could to get to our lesson with MariLou later that night! It really built my testimony about how important members are! Not only were we able to have an amazing experience with them, but the night just kept on going swell! As we were on our way to MariLou's lesson, we were able to find a new investigator with a strong Christian background and is so pumped to learn about the Book of Mormon! At MariLou's lesson, we had the brother with us that we had eaten dinner with, and were able to invite her to be baptized! She accepted for December 16th!!! :D The Spirit was so strong!! Throughout the lesson she was talking about how she feels this perfect peace at church...so different from what she had felt before! We asked if she would like that always, and we were able to bear testimony of the gift of the Holy Ghost made possible through baptism and confirmation with the proper authority! What an amazing experience for the member with us and for her! We had members in the building popping in to say hi during our lesson, and each of them, not knowing what we were talking about, bore testimony to her that she was exactly where she needs to be! It was so cool!!! <3

We had a string of just fun really cool miracles this week, too!!

Shelly! We went to have a visit with a sweet single mom in the ward, and as we were trying to find her house, we had to walk through a complex of 100+ houses! So many! We finally found her, had a wonderful lesson, and started walking back to the car. We were short on time, but I felt the prompting to knock on just one of the doors. So, of course, follow the first prompting! We went up and knocked. The owner of the home is a nonmember daughter of a less active member we see regularly! She thought we knew she lived there, and was home alone fighting a cold. She welcomed us in and we had a wonderful visit! The next day, she came to dinner at her mom's house with us, and the next day we had a fun lesson with her, her mom, and 2 of her nonmember nieces at the church making fun crafts and then went out to lunch! Such a miracle!!!

Jason! We were walking to the house of a less active we were dropping by, and saw a man taking out his trash. We approached and he said "no English! No English!" I said "what language?" "Mandarin." *deep breath* "Nee how! wuh shuh twan chow shuh!" (me trying to say, Hello! I'm a missionary!) Feeling like we were supposed to keep talking to him, Sister Bloomfield called the Chinese Elders as I tried to continue communication in Chinese. XD They talked to him on the phone and set a return appointment for the next day! They were able to see him, have a meal with him, and learn that he has been to the church before! It was so cool!!! Even if there is a language barrier, there is never a spiritual barrier!

Paul! This one is my favorite! <3 On Tuesday, we were walking out from visiting a less active in the ward and saw a man taking groceries out of his car. We were prompted to talk with him, and walked up and started the convo! He informed us that he used to have a pretty hard life because of choices that he made, then shared a heartwarming story about how he was led to a church and found Jesus Christ. :) It was amazing! We were able to set a return appointment for Friday to hand him off to the Elders to teach! Zone Conference got changed and so we had to move his appointment to Saturday. During Zone Conference, he called us and texted us! He had forgotten that we rescheduled and was trying to find another time we could meet! Sister Bloomfield (always so good at following the spirit) invited him to just come to church instead of meeting with us. He said he would LOVE to! And then asked "is it okay if I bring my kids?"  We almost cried! Sundayrolled around, and in walks Paul with a 2 and 3 year old. 2 of his 4 beautiful children. :) He stayed all 3 hours and has an appointment to meet with the Elders soon! He too talked about the spirit that he felt at church. He said he felt at peace and at home, nothing like other churches he has been to. The power of the Holy Ghost is so real! I am so grateful to be a playing piece in these people's conversion!! He is truly an elect!

This week, as previously mentioned, we had zone conference! It was so amazing! I was privileged to sing in a choir of 8 missionaries a version of Nearer my God to Thee/If You Could Hie to Kolob and Elder Ulisses Soares, one of the Presidents of the 70 came to speak! We all got to shake his hand, and I was sitting in the front row of missionaries! President Wong came and sat right in front of me, and Elder Soares was walking around close to us a lot, so many times I was in touching distance of two general authorities! It was an amazing experience! I learned a lot though! Right before the conference started, they had us missionaries sit down and President Wong looked at us and chose like 5 of us by the spirit to have a personal interview with Elder Soares. I knew it was coming and so desperately wanted to be one of the 5! I had tried to spiritually prepare and was feeling the Spirit SO STRONG in the moment! I was so sad when I wasn't picked, and prayed that Heavenly Father would calm my heart and help me to move on, focusing on what He needed to teach me. As I sat there, almost as distinct words I had the impression come to my mind "You have already received your witness." I don't know what exact witness I was searching for, but in that moment Heavenly Father calmed my heart, helping me to know that I didn't need to sit across from a general authority to know I was supposed to be there in that conference. Heavenly Father will always answer our prayers!

Something that we really focused on in Zone Conference is our faith in our goals. Elder Soares asked us if we had faith in our goals and what they mean to us. We all stood at different times answering what they meant to us and showing him that we truly do have faith in our goals. Then he had us open our planners and look at our numbers goals and the actual numbers we are getting. President Wong asked to see my planner...so he had mine. That wasn't nerve racking at all! ;) But it was such an interesting point! It didn't matter what the numbers were. He wasn't focused on that. It was the fact that they didn't match! He said that if we truly had faith in our goals, we would do everything in our power to reach them, knowing that they are truly attainable! 2 Nephi 25:23: "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know it is by grace that we are saved AFTER ALL WE CAN DO." What more can we do? It was a huge eye opener to me! We decided to focus that day on doing all we could to get people to church the next day. The next day, we had 4 less actives come to church for the first time in a while and 2 investigators. Heavenly Father really showed us that it is so true! There is always more we can be doing! We need to have faith that He will help us as we do all we can!

Oh! Another one! We received a referral from a ward member to go see a less active sister. We went to her house. She wasn't home, but her inactive 30 year old son was. We were able to talk to him on the doorstep, and he opened up that his friend's sister just died. I felt prompted to invited his friend to receive a priesthood blessing of comfort and visit from the Elders to explain the Plan of Salvation. He accepted and the Elders should be seeing them sometime this week! It was such an amazing experience to see the little path that led us to that door and now his friend will have a chance to hear the gospel! Though not active in any shape or form in the gospel, this guy recognized the blessings that it brings and that his friend could benefit from it. So cool!

I am so grateful for the many miracles that Heavenly Father blesses us with each and every day! He is truly in the details of our lives! Have an amazing week y'all!

love,
Sister Van Valkenburg

The view right outside the church...see this beauty at least 3 times a week! <3
Took some pics whilst getting ready this morning because we never take pictures...if anyone likes Harry Potter you may recognize a color scheme...we may have a zone activity today competing as districts and our zone may or may not be Griffindor...XD

Sister Bloomfield is so flexible!! Look at her!!! I was struggling to stay sitting up to look in the mirror! 

November 6,2017 Email :D

Wowie wow wow! God is just so good :) 

This week was so good! But for the sake of time and all I only have a couple of things to say. :)

One: Scripture that I love! Sister Bloomfield pointed it out to me this week and I just love it!

Alma 36:5
"Now, behold, I say unto you, if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things; but God has, by the mouth of his holy angel, made these things known unto me, not of any worthiness of myself."

We talked about how despite any "worthiness" we are ALWAYS worthy of gaining a testimony! No matter what level we are in life, spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally...He will lift us. And we are always worthy of a testimony!

A really fun, really cool experience that we had:
Marilou (the lady we found in the church parking lot) had such a good lesson with us last week! We had a ward couple with us and the lesson was just SO GOOD!!! She said she would be at church on Sunday, but come 9:15 she wasn't there and we had Ward Council in another ward...so we went into our meeting. About 30 min later, we got a text from the Elders. "Marilou is here and she's bearing her testimony!!" We bolted out of Ward Council as fast as we could!! We only caught the closing song...but as we walked up to see her, she was just swarmed with members congratulating her and introducing themselves to her! She was invited to dinner, people asked if they could come to lessons with her, it was amazing!! Talking to the Elders later, they told us that in her testimony she had talked about us (calling me "Sister Vah Vah Voom" because she can't say my name) and said that everyone in their testimonies had been saying that the church is true and she thinks they are right! She has found the true church! It was such an amazing experience!!

I am so grateful for my Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ! I know that they are truly in the details of the details of the details of our lives!!

Love you all!

Sister Van Valkenburg

ps. Thank you to those who sent pics of your cute kiddos! Made my day!!!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

October 30,2017 Email :D

Hello hello! Happy Halloween!! And most importantly, happy wedding 29th wedding anniversary to my beautiful mom and dad yesterday!! 😘Love you both!!

Oh wow! This week was the bomb! Literally..like we made a bomb out of baking soda and a gallon sized container of vinegar during District Meeting....! Haha it was awesome! Our district leader is really into using visuals to get his message across! We were learning about the steps that it takes to get people to come to church! The vinegar was the people, the baking soda was the members and Ward council! It was way fun! 

Adventure of the week:
We came out to our car to leave for the day on Tuesday morning, and our back left door was open a crack! The contents of the dash were all over the front seats, and the little cord/circuit thingie box lid thingamajig was off and the cords were exposed!! Holy Toledo!! Our car was broken into!!! Luckily, all license and registration are in place, nothing was broken, and the car runs smoothly! The little booger took only one thing! My flash drive!!! How rude!! Well enjoy the EFY and MoTab!! Hahaha who knows? Maybe it can be the beginning of a beautiful conversion! Music is pretty high up there with ways to connect to the Spirit! 

This week we had an amazing experience with a sweet member! We have been using music a lot in our teaching lately, singing a song and bearing testimony with scripture. It truly is fun! We were visiting an elderly sister in the ward whose husband died just about a year ago. We were prompted to sing A Child's Prayer for her and share some scriptures on that. As we sang, she smiled and was just touched! As soon as we finished, she told us that that exact song has been stuck in her head the past few weeks and that she couldn't remember the whole thing! She was so grateful that we sang that song for her because she was able to learn how it goes! It's the little things like that that just bring a smile to my face! <3

We had another miracle happen! (so many!) There is a 17 year old less active named Stephen in our ward, but he is never home. :( He and his sister were baptized about 2 years ago and Sister Bloomfield, unbeknownst to me, has been praying to run into him on the streets because he is never home. Yesterday, we did! It was so cool! He was with a friend and we said hello...as we crossed paths on the crosswalk! Oh no!! We were only able to say hello! :( After the exchange, Sister Bloomfield was so grateful to have seen them, but said simply "I hope we get to see them again soon so that we can actually talk to them." I said "we will!" Less than an hour later, right outside our house, we ran into them again! Heavenly Father is so good! We were able to talk to them longer this time and it was just so good! I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father that looks out for our needs! 

Another miracle! And this one's a doozie!! Once upon a time it was Wednesday night, and we have coordination meeting for Willoughby ward at the church 8:00 every Wednesday. So we come pulling up at about 7:45 to get to our meeting, and see a car parked right smack dab in front of the front doors of the church. As we drive by the car, I think I recognize her as a ward member and feel prompted to back the car up to talk through the windows. As missionaries, we are not allowed to do that without a backer outside of the car! But...ya know...when the spirit says to do something....you do it! So I backed er up and we said "hello!" to the lady! Turns out, she isn't a member of the church, and had parked her car there because she "feels good" there! We were ecstatic!! :D We had about 10 minutes before the meeting, but the Elders and Ward Mission Leader didn't appear to be there yet, so we said we would love to give her a short church tour before our meeting if she would like! She said yes! So we had an amazing church tour, taught a bit of the Restoration, set a return appointment for TONIGHT (so excited) and had just an amazing experience! Come 8:15 we had said goodbye and sent her on her way with no sight of the Elders! We then received a text from them saying that coordination had been moved to the ward mission leader's house that night! BUT they sent the message at 3:30 that afternoon. Our phone didn't receive the text until after we had been at the church and met MariLou! Oh it just built my faith SO MUCH that Heavenly Father is in the details of the details of the details!! I know that there is a very important reason that we didn't receive that text message until later! We wouldn't have gone to the church if we had gotten it on time!! It was such a cool experience!! :D

I am so grateful for all the miracles great and small that Heavenly Father blesses us with! :D

have an amazing week!!
love,
Sister Van Valkenburg

ps. Pictures of Halloween Costumes and your smiling faces would be much appreciated!! <3

My sweet companion and the chocolate/banana/Peanut butter pancakes we made! We couldn't just do the regular mix! ;)
We tried donairs for the first time! Yummy!
The ward trunk or treat! ...We switched nametags! Cuz that's all we can do! XD
I got a little excited for Christmas last P-day and bought chocolate countdown calendars...! Now it just needs to be December 1st!! XD Merry Christmas!! :D

Thursday, October 26, 2017

October 23,3017 Email ;D

Lost inLangley: The Saga continues!

Hey y'all! :D

Oh this week has been such an amazing adventure! I'd love to start with my beautiful companion!!! Sister Bloomfield is the sweetest ray of sunshine! She's been out for two transfers, and is just on fire! I know I am going to learn so much from her this transfer! She truly is amazing!! <3 

We are a lot in common in the fact that we have NO IDEA how to get from point A to point B without a GPS! XD And...we didn't have a GPS when we got here. So first order of business was: buy a GPS! So we did...day 2. And then getting in the car on day 3, I got in and rested my arm on the middle console = where it was with the cord sticking out.....and severed the charge cord!! The GPS was out of commission after like 24 hours!! Dang Sister Van Valkenburg!! It's okay, though because the Lord always provides! After getting lost in the rain for a solid hour or two on foot...we wandered into a gas station where I was prompted to buy a USB/car charger converter thingie and we were able to use the computer hookup cable thingie as a charger!! Miracles!!! :D 

Also, funny story: We dropped by a member family in the Brookswood ward and found out that it was their son's 8th birthday!! We tried to make the visit short and sweet to respect their family time, and the sweetest thing: they had the 4-year-old come in with some birthday cupcakes (the mini Halloween ones of course) and take them to us as the guests! The birthday boy watched as the 4-year-old graciously held out the cupcakes to me and Sister Bloomfield. I said no thank you, and as the little boy tried to walk past me, I tried to help because the cupcakes were a little wibbley wobbly....and down on the carpet went ALL the cupcakes!!! -.- Oh man!! such an adventure!! We quickly cleaned up, shared a birthday scripture with the boy, said a prayer, and ran out! Welcome to the ward!! Ahh! XD 

Wow this week has been full of so much fun and so many miracles, though! We were able to find some families to teach and meet the sweetest ward members! We are working on figuring out the area, as we are covering 2 wards, 2 stakes, 2 zones! So fun! We are the first sisters back into the Willoughby ward for some time now, and the Relief Society President especially is so stoked!! We were able to sit down with her this week and get like 20 names to go see!! The work here is just about to boom!! SO exciting!! 

I am so grateful to be here, so blessed to be surrounded in the arms of His love each and every day!! I have been studying the life of Jesus Christ as a transfer goal...and wow! I am just so grateful! 

Have a wonderful week everyone!!! Love you all!!

Sister Van Valkenburg
 
As a goodbye present, I got my nails painted by sweet Ricky (6) while Irish (2) did my hair. No pic needed for the hair XD
It rains here like every day!! So beautiful with all the leaves changing color as well! Here's a pic with my SOAKED shoes! haha! :D

Oh the things you find in your pantry when you get transferred! Chocolate quinoa?!?!? 

October 16,2017 Email :D



ONCE ON THIS ISLAND

So...a lot happened this last week! But I only have a short amount of time to write!! 

The title of this email is because I will be leaving this beautiful island! :( only for one transfer was I able to be here....but it was something that I will be eternally grateful for!! :) 

We had a zone call Saturday night to tell us our news, and I have been called to go back to the mainland!! I will be in Langley, right by the temple! I am so excited to serve with my beautiful new companion, Sister Bloomfield, and run run run!!! 

This last week we had a really fun soccer night with an investigator family and a less active family in the ward. It was a fun little pick up game with little kids running in circles and giggles all around! We had a wonderful talk with them after, and the Spirit was so strong! Oh I love them!

Last night was the musical fireside that we have been planning for the last couple of weeks! It was awesome!! We had 11 musical numbers stake-wide and the Spirit was SO STRONG!! It was one for the books!! I was able to play the piano for the congregational hymns and for the EFY medley that us missionaries of course had to sing! It was a different version though with different harmony..pretty cool! Elder Deppe and I sang "Because He Lives" again, and other musical numbers were "His Hands" "Savior Redeemer" "Come Thou Fount" a Christian melody from a family of 6 girls all singing...STUNNING. It was a highlight for sure!!

We had a wonderful miracle this last week! We had about 2 hours of time to go finding and decided to go downtown. In the morning, we decided to plan specifically what we would look for for each 15 minute block. So for the first 15 minutes, we planned to search downtown for a man who had lost a loved one, for the East Elders to have a new investigator. As we were walking downtown, we found a man named Jason. I stopped him, just asking what he was up to, and as we talked, we learned that he had lost his mother! It was such a testimony builder to me that Heavenly Father puts those people in our paths! As we talked, he said he had to go, and I felt prompted to invite him to a singles night activity the next day. We would be playing board games. We went searching for other people afterward, and Heavenly Father blessed us to find almost all the people we had planned for! Blessings!! The next night, we were going to drop in on the game night, and got a call from the East Elders. Jason came to the game night!! We were able to attend the game night and pass him off to the Elders. He became a new investigator. One of the Elders came up to me later that night and said "Sister Van Valkenburg! How did you know to invite him to the game night?!" And I was like..."I dunno. The Spirit...why?" And he told me that  Jason has literally traveled the country to play games. He loves board games! It was yet another testimony builder for me that Heavenly Father is SO AWARE and will put all these people in our paths!

Oh I am so excited for the miracles I will be able to see in my new area, and am so grateful for my Heavenly Father showing me each and every day that there truly is a perfect plan for each and every one of us! 

I love you all! Have a wonderful week!!

love,
Sister Van Valkenburg

The Parliament building at night <3
Selfie after soccer! I love these girls!!
British Colombia: the best place on earth!

Low quality picture, high quality district!! We had such a blast this transfer having our district also be the missionaries of the ward!! Gonna miss em! 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

October 10,2017 Email :D



HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

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 it....in 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

GENERAL CONFERENCE WAS AMAZIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNGGGG!!!!!!!

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 "mormon.com" 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!! 

love,
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 then...in 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 friends...be 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!! 

HAVE THE BEST CONFERENCE WEEKEND EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love,
Sister Van Valkenburg

Sunday, September 24, 2017

September 18,2017 Email :D

I realized this morning that exactly 8 months ago I entered the MTC...wow! 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 pictures...so 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

I LOVE MUSIC!!!
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 music...like 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, just....wow!!! 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!!

love,
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 here...no 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 :)

love,
Sister Van Valkenburg