Monday, February 27, 2017

February 27,2017 Email :D

Hello all!

This week our car got hit! We weren't present when it happened, but there is definitely evidence on our back bumper that someone wasn't looking where they were going! ;) So we have to take the car in sometime soon (We already did all the reports and such and are waiting for instructions) and we will be without a car for 3-5 that will be exciting! :) 

Quote from this week from Sister Thurber: "What is that game called where you pound down the hedgehogs?" Whack-a-mole. She was thinking of whack-a-mole. XD 

Last week after emails on Pday, we went to the mall for a bit and did some shopping. There was a sign in the parking lot that said: "If you're not in the mall, don't park in a stall, don't park here, don't park here at all.  - Apologies to Dr. Seuss." So funny! 

I exchanged my US money for Canadian money joke, the Canadian bills smell like maple syrup! SO COOL!!!

This last week, a lot of lessons have fallen through and we have had a hard time finding new investigators. It's really hard, but it's also really good in some ways. I am learning more and more to trust in the Lord and to exercise my faith in finding. Last week in district meeting, an Elder said that these people are the Lord's referrals for us. Just like with any person we ask for referrals from, we have to gain His trust before He will give us someone to teach. I am striving every day to be exactly obedient and have the spirit with me so that I can be worthy and trustworthy of finding and teaching the Lord's referrals!

This last week, we were knocking doors and we came across two brothers who were heading off to work. They said they are LDS! (This is rare here, so I got really excited) They said they hadn't been to church in a long time though, but gave us their number so we could set up an appointment to come and share a message! Sister Thurber did this thing where she wrote it down and then repeated it wrong so they would say it again..making sure they gave us a real number..sneaky sneaky! It all checked out! We called the number the next day, excited to set up an appointment, and a lady picks up saying she is the guy's ex-wife! He tricked us! We had an interesting conversation with her...but we have their names and address! So that was an interesting experience...we will be writing down their names and address and praying about what to do next. :) 

I have been thinking a lot about Lehi's dream about the tree of life this week. Like I said, we haven't been able to find new people to teach, and also the people we are teaching aren't keeping commitments or progressing. It's really sad. It led me to look at the story of the tree of life a little differently. We have the iron rod, word of God, in our lives to help us get to the tree. God's love. If we want to get to the tree, we have to MOVE OUR DANG FEET!!! The iron rod is the word of God = His commandments! We have to progress! We have to keep the commandments and follow the words of the prophets and read our scriptures and go to church and do everything in our power to get to the tree! It is not simply good enough to hold on to the rod. To say the church is true. You have to LIVE IT. You have to walk along the path to get to the tree! The Lord cannot direct our footsteps if we aren't moving our feet! We need to face the Lord and his love (the tree) which turns us away from the things of the world. We cannot serve two masters! You cannot orient your body towards the tree, and be facing the great and spacious building at the same time! But it is important not only to turn toward God and away from the great and spacious building, but to walk forward! Hold to the rod! And MOVE YOUR DANG FEET!!! 

Okay. I will get off my soap box. :) I know that it is so important for us to allow Heavenly Father into our lives. I know that only He knows exactly what we need, when we need it! I know He knows where we need to go and how to get there! I know that if we give our lives over to him, if we allow him to direct our footsteps, we will ALWAYS end up at the tree. We will ALWAYS taste of that fruit which is desirable above all other fruit! 

I love you all so much! Have an amazing week!!!

Sister Van Valkenburg

Monday, February 20, 2017

February 20,2017 Email :D

Hello everyone! MAN!!  I just love missionary work! Time flies when you're serving the Lord! Saturday was my 1 month mark! It's a bitter sweet because even though I am still at the beginning, I want to hold on to every moment I can! Just a warning, once again this week will be a smorgasbord of random things...but I just love it all!

First and foremost: My sweet companion eats eggs and rice every day. As previously mentioned. What I forgot to mention is that it really is good...and I'm not complaining! SO I had her write down her recipe for all to have! This is the simplest version including only eggs, rice, and cheese. She has gotten it down to a science that requires less than 10 minutes to prepare, eat and clean up! Can anyone say speedy gonzales? 

Note: we make the rice ahead of time, preferably jasmine rice, and make it with chicken bullion cubes for flavor. :) 

I will type exactly what Sister Thurber wrote exactly..she thinks she is funny XD

-Turn on stove
- PAM on pan
- Open fridge
-Get out 2 eggs
- get out cheese
- get out rice
- Close fridge
- Get compost out of freezer (here, we have recycling, trash, and compost. It's weird...we just do it.)
- crack eggs on pan
- Put eggshells in compost
- put compost in freezer
- rinse hands
- put rice on plate
- put rice in microwave for 1 min 30 seconds

While rice is heating:
- prepare cheese
- get out cheese grater
- place prepared cheese on cheese grater
- get out salt and pepper
- get out spatula
- put rice back in fridge
- when 10 seconds are left on microwave, salt and flip eggs

When Rice is done heating:
- grate cheese on top of rice
- put eggs on to rice and cheese
- put pepper on top
- put cheese back
- put salt and pepper back
- soak dishes in water
- place pan on separate stove to cool
- pray
- eat (3 min)
- do dishes (2 min)

A funny thing that happened...we were walking along a walking path contacting in the rain, and a lady was walking by. Sister Thurber says: "Beautiful day, eh?" and she responds: "If you're a duck!" so funny! We were laughing so hard we couldn't even try to continue a conversation! 

We are always looking for ways to have more fun while serving, and last night we were both a little we decided to run inbetween each house! The driveways were long and steep and we were laughing having so much fun! It made it so much more upbeat as we were talking to people (even though we were totally out of breath!) Missionary work is and should always be fun!

The other day, we were talking some of our investigators, a sweet 9 year old and 11 year old. Their mom just got baptized in January and we are working on giving the girls courage to know they are ready! They really are! They are just a little hesitant. They had some friends over the other day when we were teaching them, and one of them, a 12 year old girl asked for a Book of Mormon! She promised she would read it and was really participating in the lesson! Of course, she needed parental we left it with the family we are teaching, she called her mom later and got permission! I hope she really does read it! We asked where she lives and she found out she lives in a house that we had contacted and they said they were not interested. The Lord works in mysterious ways!

Sometimes I wish I could quote Mosiah 13:3 at doorsteps. ;) Of course I won't...but look it up!

A chapter I have really loved so far in my mission is Mosiah 14. (Also found as Isaiah 53) I love my Savior so much! Verse 6: 

"All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all."

Wow. It makes me wonder. In day to day life, how have I gone astray? How can I turn back to Him? To repent means to "re-turn" to God. To literally turn ourselves to face Him again. He has done so much for us and loves us all perfectly and unconditionally! May we all turn to God and our Savior, who has done so much for each and every one of us!

We had a beautiful experience the other day in Peachland that really helped us to recognize how the hand of the Lord plays such a huge role in everything we do, and how much he loves His children. We were on foot knocking doors (e'ery day!) and Sister Thurber got a little frustrated. Because she has been in the area over 4 months, it is rare we find a place she hasn't been, and she felt like we had nowhere to go. I felt we should go to an area I could barely see through trees. Honestly didn't even know what it was, and she said she had an idea of how to get over there. We wandered around trying to find a path and finally found a walking path to get there. Turns out, it's a little trailer park for 55+! She had never been there.We knocked on the first house, and a guy answered saying he wasn't interested. *always ask everyone for referrals* so we asked him is there was anyone in need we could uplift with a message in the area. He thought about it for a pondered. And said "You could try #16" It was awesome! We made our way to #16 and there was a lady on the porch. She said straight up "If it has to do with religion, I'm not interested!" Normally we respectfully bow out, not wanting to push and wanting to keep in everyone's good graces as representatives of the church. Sometimes we ask for a referral. Sister Thurber asked "Is there something that happened in your past or something that is making you feel this way? Something like that. This shocked even her, she told me later. The lady ended up opening up! She said she was raised catholic but turned against it because of decisions some Catholics make and such. She believes in one God. She does not believe in drinking. She has decided to just investigate churches at home online. Then, she finally put together who we are representing. (There are a lot of Jehovah's Witnesses missionaries in the area and apparently she thought we were them.) YOU'RE MORMONS?! She got so excited! She said that our religion has come the closest to what she believes. She said that someday she would like to buy a "Book of the mormons!" Sister Thurber and I both had Book of Mormons in hand the whole day as a commitment to be ready and get out of our comfort zone! She wanted to give us money for it and I simply told her that the only thing she needed to give in return is to give her time to the Lord by reading it. She promised she would! We are seeing her again on Saturday!! WOW!! The Lord really prepares people to be taught!! Just as I have already learned to love this sweet daughter of God, I know that Heavenly Father does and led us to her! Between finding the area, talking to that man that wasn't even interested himself....! There is no coincidence that we found her! I can't wait to teach her more!!! 

I know that this church is true! Heavenly Father loves us all SO much!! If we pray for guidance and commit to follow, we will ALWAYS be blessed with an answer. We all have the same obligation to take upon ourselves the name of Christ! We covenanted to when we were baptized. I may have his name on my name tag, but we all need to strive to allow others to meet Christ through us! He has blessed my life in so many ways, how could I hold back from sharing his gospel to everyone!! I wish I could shout it on the housetops! THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST IS TRUE!!! 

"The standard of truth has been erected. NO unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing! Persecutions may raise, mobs may combine, armies may assemble and calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly,nobly and independent until it has penetrated every continent,visited every clime, swept every country and sounded in very ear until the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the great Jehovah shall say the work is done!"
Joseph Smith

I love you all so much! More importantly, Heavenly Father knows and loves you!!

Sister Alissa Van Valkenburg

Beautiful Kelowna vinyards! They're everywhere! Lots of wineries too...
You can see the Lake from just about beautiful!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February 14,2017 Email :D



A 2 hour flight delay, 4 hours in immigration, and some waiting around here and there later...I arrived in Vancouver. :) President Burt personally came to pick us up from the airport!! He is an amazing man!! I love him so much already and he has already made us all promise he will be at our weddings and big life events from now on! XD We all were able to have personal interviews with him, and let me tell you...that man is called of God. He will send me exactly where I need to be with who I need to be with. I trust him completely!! Speaking of who I need to be new companion! My new companion hails from Houston Texas, and is named Sister Thurber. (Rhymes with Gerber. Love it!) She has been out 9 months! In fact, Saturday was her exact 9 month mark! She is a sweetheart and is teaching  me all I need to know to be a successful missionary here in Kelowna. Also, she eats rice and eggs for every meal. OH! I'm in West Kelowna/West Bank! (pronounced cologne-a or kill-own-a) My area covers pretty much all of West Kelowna and a town called Peachland. And it is all one ward! Shows how many people here are LDS!! (soon to change, right? ;) ) It is absolutely beautiful here!! Mountains surrounding us, right on the edge of a lake and all covered in snow! There are so many people here with European accents! So that's always fun. :) Oh! And yes, people here do say "ay" and just about everyone has a dog. EVERYONE! 

I love being a missionary :) I mean, there are hard moments just about every day where I may feel discouraged and/or physically tired, but my heart is always warm and I always have a prayer in my heart! A cool experience: On my first official day in the field, we were knocking doors and when a lady opened her door, her dog (I'm telling you they're everywhere!) got out and we helped her chase it down! We were able to get it in the house, then teach her the entire restoration on her doorstep! She acknowledged that when she was closer to Christ and going to church, she was happier and has more direction in her life. She said she has always been searching for the true church. I wanted to do a dance!! And hug her and shake her and be like HERE IT IS!!! CONGRATULATIONS!! YOU FOUND IT!!! But of course I just smiled and bore testimony. :) We were able to give her a pamphlet on the Restoration, and a Book of Mormon AND make a return appointment! We will be teaching her on Thursday if all goes to plan! It was such a special experience for me to have! We have had days since then without even one person interested in hearing our message, but the Lord knew she was ready and I'm so grateful we were led to her! 

Another really cool experience, we were knocking doors (we do that a lot) and it was about time for us to head back home. We knocked on a door and a guy, maybe in his 50s answered the door. He was all embarrassed, not wearing a shirt and not "having his teeth in," but he talked to us. He had rolling stones blasting in the back, and at first I was just expecting another "no thanks, I'm atheist" or something. But the Lord loves all of His children! He talked to us for a minute about the weather and such, we started in a bit about our message, and then he interrupted is. He started telling us how he has cancer and a surgery on Friday for it. He's a single dad of a 14 year old daughter and that he isn't ever open to religion or God, but that is kind of is now because of his situation. He asked us to pray for him! We prayed with him right on that doorstep, gave him a pamphlet, promised to pray for him every day and got permission to come visit him again after his surgery. He may not know it, but God is preparing him and I am so grateful for that experience to learn for myself. :) 

A little plug for Tim Horton...AMAZING donuts. :) Which reminds me...I've been keeping a list of "Just Canadian things" :D 
- they call it a speed "hump" not a speed "bump"
- It is a "washroom" not a "bathroom"
- There is a store called "Dollarama" I laugh every time :)
- The letter "Z" is pronounced "Zed" not "Zee"
- They call beanies (the hat) tooks/tukes
- They call dinner rolls "buns"
- they love ketchup chips. Which apparently just taste like ketchup.

more to come :) 

For those who are curious, my Pdays are actually on Mondays, but yesterday was a Canadian Holiday (Family Day!) so we have Pday today. :) 

Well!! That's just about everything!! Please know that I know Heavenly Father is always looking out for all of us!! We are all placed exactly where we need to be with who we need to be with. We are all children of God, with a purpose here on earth!! The gospel is so true!!! 

Sister Alissa Van Valkenburg

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February 7,2017 Email:D

Subject: Canada Bound!! ...wait...what?! :O 

Hi all!

It's crazy to think that I am leaving the MTC at 3:30 tomorrow morning! (And not just because of the outrageously early departure time!) I have loved every minute spent here, and have grown so close to my district and Heavenly Father. I am sad to say goodbye. There is such a sweet spirit at the many missionaries united in the same purpose filling the halls. :) We keep joking that tomorrow we will be "real missionaries in the real world." But something Sister Clark pointed out to me the other day sticks with me. The feelings you feel in the temple, at church...the things that the Spirit testifies to you; those are the real things. That is the real world. :) I am striving to live my life as much as I can in the real world. 

Like I mentioned last week, I was able to "Host" on Wednesday for the arriving missionaries. Sister Clark and I were assigned two Korean Sister Missionaries who are from South Korea, going to South Korea on their mission...speaking Korean! It's cool that they get to come out here to come to the MTC! They were so sweet, and we got to take them around to various places to get travel in order, check in, get clothes, and doctor visits. Because one of them needed an X-ray, we were able to take a short field trip to the Health Clinic about a mile away. We were ecstatic!!! FIELD TRIP!!! It's the small things. ;)

On Friday, we attended the Infield Training. 9 Hours of lecture and workshops on how to street contact and work with members in your area. It was actually not bad. :) At one point, we were gathered in a big assembly room about to begin another meeting. They called out a name of an Elder with a paper for him (happens a lot) and when they gave it to him, they said "Your mission president called. You are supposed to fly out Monday, but they need you now. We are going to excuse you now to go pack your bags." Everyone started clapping and cheering as he got up and walked out. The look on his face was priceless! Turns out, that was just part of the play they then put on for us and he actually isn't even a missionary...but golly! They put on a good show! :D It made me really excited for tomorrow!! Tomorrow I am going to be in the field!! AHH!!!

Yesterday we had an extra amount of study time and decided to do one last Book of Mormon read as a district. It was bitter sweet, but really good. :) We read the account of Abinadi and King Noah. The spirit was so strong! Mosiah 14 really had an impact on us, and we discussed it for a good amount of time. To think of all that Jesus Christ has done for us..."But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." I am so grateful for my Savior. :) My testimony has grown so much teaching investigators of the wonderful gift of the Atonement and all that we have in this really is a blessing! A sister in Relief Society used the analogy that when Christ suffered for us, he gave us a gift card with an infinite amount of money on it. When we don't use the Atonement, we are starving ourselves for groceries when we have an unlimited use card in our hands. I'm not really good at explaining things..but the concept has really stuck with me. :) The Atonement is such a blessing! USE IT!!! It will bring you closer to Christ and Heavenly Father. In the Sunday Devotional, the speaker was talking about how Heavenly Father pours out blessing upon us, and when we try to pay Him back, he gives us more! He gives us bread and we give bread back and he gives us TOAST!! And then we give toast back and he puts BUTTER on it! And then we finally work to give that back and he gives it back with JAM!! Hahaha :) It was funny, but really true!

Did I ever mention I love my district? The Elder in our district never get mail, but us sisters do. XD There is one Elder that actually has never even gotten a Sunday night us sisters all wrote them a letter each, full of inside jokes and gratitude for them magnifying their Priesthood. We all signed them, put them in envelopes, stamped them, and when the Elders came back with the mail for us, we had mail for them on their desks. :) It was a sweet moment. :) Tonight they are giving each of us a blessing before we say goodbye. The blessings they have been in our lives the past 3 weeks has not gone unnoticed. We spend a lot of time talking as sisters that we really have the best district EVER. There has been no drama. Everyone has the perfect companion for them in learning and teaching styles. We all get along so well, nobody is left out, and we have the two best teachers ever! We took cheesy pictures this week that I will send separately. :) 

Well! I love you all so much, and am so grateful (still) to have the name of our Savior on my chest! We talk about how us missionaries represent Christ. But we were talking (Sister Clark and I) the other day..and when you are baptized, you take upon yourself the name of Christ. So you may not have a fancy badge, but you too are representing!! Chin up and arms out everybody! We have some work to do!!

Lots and lots of love,
Sister Alissa Van Valkenburg