Monday, March 27, 2017

March 27,2017 Email :D

Hello everybody!
This is an email written by a Sister Missionary who just pet a kangaroo!! WOOHOO!! life is so grand! I was also able to hold a sugar glider and some birds, pet some goats, an emu and this other creature called a capybara. Something. It's like a giant guinea pig. Like the size of an actual pig..idk! But it was amazing! I'll send pictures! Also, it's the first time I've worn jeans in...a century! And it was honestly really weird.

Did all you women have a chance to watch Women's Conference?!?!?!?!??! It was SO GOOD!!!! My favorite was definitely Sister Burton's talk on "certain women" WOW. SO powerful!! <3 It really inspired me to be a true disciple of Christ and partner with Him! And I just CANNOT WAIT for GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was preparing to teach a lesson on personal revelation for the bishop's family *deep breathes. No pressure* and had this awesome realization! The Lord reveals His truth, which is unchanging, to the prophet on the earth as revelation for the whole world. We listen to God's truth through that prophet and receive our own personal revelation for ourselves on how to apply the revelation the prophet received! REVELATION BABY!!! :D Joseph Smith said "This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted - by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed." So good! I love it! So I have a challenge for all y'all!

For General Conference, prepare at least one question that you want God to answer, and write it down. Look for that answer through personal revelation during conference! I promise that as you do so, you will find your answer! A good resource for preparing for personal revelation is found in True to the Faith under "revelation." I love it! It gives us a list of things to do to prepare to receive personal revelation! :D :D 

Sorry my email is so short this week! I am having a hard time focusing and all...but I really want you all to know that I have a testimony that this church is true! I love being able to share this amazing message with everyone I meet! To strengthen their faith in the Savior and lift their moods! Sister Thueson, one of my amazing Sister Training Leaders, taught me a concept this week that has really stuck with me. Some days we have seemingly no success. We get doors slammed, we have appointments fall through, or we are overall just not getting to talk to anyone! But she said that Heavenly Father has His own area book of the entire world. (The big fat binder we keep all the records of all the people in the area in) Each day Heavenly Father goes through and makes a list of things He needs done for various people. This person needs to be smiled at, this person needs to just see the missionaries and wonder who they are, this person needs to be handed a Restoration pamphlet, etc. Each day as we get door after door closed on us or seemingly haven't done anything, Heavenly Father has a list of people with big fat check marks next to them because we had been doing the Lord's work. Our checklist may sometimes seem incomplete, but as long as we are keeping our will aligned with His, we will always accomplish the Lord's work. :) That really helped me this week, and I know it doesn't just apply to missionary work!

I love you all so much!! Have an amazing week and CONFERENCE WEEKEND!!! #BLESSED 
love, Sister Van Valkenburg

This is one of those weird giant guinea pig things...!
This is Juliet. :) Cuddly bird! So cute!
Feeding a kangaroo was never on my bucket list...but...holy cow it was so awesome!!! Highly recommended.

​This silly kangaroo was just chilling against the fence sitting like this, so I decided to keep her company for a bit! XD 

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20,2017 Email :D

It's supposed to rain tomorrow and is 0 degrees outside (Celsius) but hey, I'm wearing floral because SPRING!!! :D

So...the title of this email may be a bit deceiving...because though transfer calls came Saturday night/Sunday morning and people are moving around tomorrow...I'm staying right here in West Kelowna with Sister Thurber! Looks like I'm sticking to a diet of rice and eggs! We bought a 25 pound bag of Jasmine rice today...if that doesn't show how much rice we eat!There isn't a whole lot of change happening in our zone this transfer. In fact, only one elder and one sister in our entire zone are moving! SO we are all staying together as a happy little zone family! ;) 

This last week we were without a car for 3 days, and got to experience a little bit of mission life on foot! It was definitely a learning experience! I want to share something cool that came out of it! We bought bus passes to get us across the area, and we had an appointment on Monday for 7, and the bus came at 6:33 to get there exactly at 7. SO, we were walking to the bus, and Sister Thurber was checking time (because if you know anything about me, you know I have no concept of time!) and realized that we were a bit behind if you were driving down the road, you would have seen to frantic sister missionaries running as fast as we could to the bus stop!! We got there at exactly 6:33!!! And...the bus had left 5 minutes early. :P Sister Thurber just about lost it! There was no way to get there exactly on time, and no matter how much I assured her that everything will work out and to trust in the Lord...she was really stressed. :) The next bus wouldn't get us to the appointment until 7:20. Just as we were pulling out the phone to text the person that we would have to be late or cancel, she texted us! "Hey, is it okay if you come at 7:20 instead of 7:00?" If there wasn't a better "I told you so" moment...! Hahaha Heavenly Father has such a great sense of humor! He taught us such a simple lesson that day, but helped us a lot! I love being able to turn to Him and know I will always be okay!

Also this past Saturday was my 2 month mark! Like what?! Where is the time going!??!?!?!?! We got Frozen Yogurt because Sister Thurber loves it and I can't make decisions of how to celebrate! XD Any ideas for my 3 month?! XD

As I mentioned in last week's email, Sister Thurber and I hiked Mount Boucherie last week! It was way fun! There was snow for a trail for the last bit...but it was a good hike! I decided to try to run through a field of snow at the flash for any other St. Georgians....we are heavier than snow and will sink at first step. And fall on our faces. XD It was so fun!! So we hiked that mountain, and then the next day we decided to knock doors for 4 hours up a mountain. We figured (quite logically :P) that since we had hiked a mountain the day before, what's another one?! We didn't consider how sore we would be! Hahaha that was a fun 4 hours!!! The next day, we had district meeting and one of the trainings was on likening the scriptures unto ourselves. I likened Alma 26:27 to Sister Thurber and I. 

Alma 26:27
"Now when our hearts were depressed and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst they bretheren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success."

likened version:
"Now when Sister Thurber's and Sister Van Valkenburg's hearts were depressed, and they were about to turn back down the mountain, behold, the Lord comforted them, and said: Go amongst my children up the mountain, the Canadians, and bear with patience the pain in thy legs and shortness of breath, and I will give unto you success." 

We had some good conversations with people up that mountain! :) And we learned that we can hike two mountains and two days! ;) Really though, the Lord will always give us the strength to accomplish His purposes! :) 

This last week, we had a zone fast for new investigators and progress with our current investigators. Sister Thurber and I were able to fast on Wednsday, and by Saturday we had 2 new investigators! WOW! Power of the fast!!

Part of our Zone conference was about becoming pamphlet missionaries! (To teach a lot more out of the pamphlets) So we had a goal as a zone the other day to hand out at least 75 pamphlets as a zone in one day. Each companionship had to hand out at least 8 or 9. By 6:00, Sister Thurber and I had only handed out 2 and we were getting a little bit frustrated...nobody would open their doors or even give us the time of day! But we put on some smiles (well, bigger smiles. We are always smiling) and started running door to door to save time and build some energy! We handed out 9 more in just an hour!! Our zone got like 86 or something handed out!!! And not only did we meet our goal, but 86 more people now have information about the church in their hands and more of an opportunity to take steps in their lives to come closer to God!! SO COOL!!! I love setting goals and seeing them be accomplished!! 

When studying obedience this week, I came across Exodus 19:5
"Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine."

SO COOL!!! The word peculiar means, as stated in the Bible Dictionary: "One's very own, exclusive, or special" If we keep our covenants with the Lord, we will be special. His very own. We will be a treasure to him! And I just think that is awesome. :) 

Last thought for today: John 14:16-17

"16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."

We are so privileged to have the gift of the Holy Ghost!! It is so important that we recognize the gift that we have!! It is such a blessing!! :D :D :D

I love you all to pieces and just love hearing how you are doing!! Keep being strong!! Remember that Heavenly Father loves you SO MUCH and is just ready to pour out the windows of heaven!! Turn to Him, and you will never be led astray!!

Sister Van Valkenburg

Hiking Mount Boucherie!

​Made it to the top!!

​Ahhhh...snow. And pale skin! Yikes! 

I have attached a little template thing for all the days of the year! A sweet lady in the ward gave us each one, and you are to set a goal for the year and color in a little square for each day you do it! I have been doing it since the middle of February, and have loved it! My goal has been to say at least one heartfelt prayer every day of just gratitude! I have seen how much the Lord has blessed me with more of an attitude of gratitude and I love it!! So I extend the challenge to you! Choose something to do every day, and use the chart or something similar! Practice the piano, read your scriptures, make your bed, anything! I know that as we make and keep goals, we are so blessed!

Monday, March 13, 2017

March 13,2017 Email :D

Heeelllllloooooooo friends and family!!! 
May I just say, Zone Conference is soooo cool! For all you preparing to serve a mission, just know that Zone Conference is where you take a pen and a notebook and write until your hand cramps and feel so much love and the! It is such a blessing! President Burt is such an amazing man! He loves us all individually and you can really feel it! He is called of God. He shook each of our hands individually and looked into our eyes and told us that he loves us. I took so many good notes and learned so much from the people giving trainings and from the! I made a list of goals after Zone Conference...and maybe one of my goals should have been to remember all my goals!! hahaha always striving for perfection!! That's something we are always doing on a mission...setting goals. At first it was really overwhelming...but now I just love it! There is always something to reach for and when you accomplish it! WOOHOO!! All the good feelings!! 

There was a sweet lady that gave a talk on Sunday (LOVE SUNDAYS!!!) and she talked about a sign that we all need to see when we are going through a trial. It is so easy for us to say "why me?!" or to freak out in one way or another not knowing what to do. The sign says: "QUIET! God at work" Really though...that hit me with such force! Heavenly Father knows the plan and if we trust in Him, we will get through and overcome anything we are put through! We just need to let Him lead us and do the talking! RIGHT?! It's so good! 

I came up with an analogy this last week...just bear with me (classic LDS saying) and I would love to share it with you! It kind of shows the age group we are working with here in West Bank. ;) 

The Savior lived the perfect life. = He has knitted the perfect scarf. We all are going through life knitting our own individual scarves. When we sin, we drop a stitch. Sometimes we try to pick up the dropped stitch ourself, but we can't. Sometimes we watch it drop helplessly, and don't know what to do. Sometimes we don't care or don't even notice we dropped a stitch or two until later we notice a hole. Each stitch dropped makes a hole, and dropping mores stitches makes a bigger hole. All we can do is keep knitting because we don't have the capability of picking up those stitches once they are dropped. The Savior does. If we turn to Him and hand Him our knitting needles, He can and will pick up the stitches. As we knit, we cannot go back to a stitch and pick it up. We would have to unravel the whole length of scarf to go back to that one dropped stitch...and we can't turn back time. Again, if we turn our needles over to the Savior, He will be able to present our scarves to Heavenly Father. Some will be longer than others. Some will be short. Some will be practically flawless with just a few holes...while others may appear as a mass of string, practically transparent. As we turn to the Savior, He will take our scarf and perfect it. All the kinks, holes, and imperfections will be fixed before our eyes. Rather than wait for that day to be perfected, I want to try my est to make a perfect scarf now. Rather than call the Savior over to help only when I drop a stitch, I want His complete companionship as I knit. I want to turn my life completely over to Him and allow Him to guide my hands as I stitch by stitch knit my scarf for Heavenly Father!! 

I love this gospel! I love how we can always turn to Heavenly Father with anything that may be troubling us! I know that He is always there for us and loves us all individually and perfectly! It makes me think of the movie Facing the Giants. When we win, we praise Him. When we lose, we praise Him. And He will always be there to lift us up even higher! I hope we can all always remember the great sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us and strive to be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost ALWAYS!!! He is the senior companion!!

lots of love from a wannabe Canadian,
Sister Alissa Van Valkenburg

PS. Nanaimo bars are amazing <3 

Monday, March 6, 2017

March 6,2017 Email :D

Hey y'all!

I started saying y'all when I got here...and no, it's not a Canadian thing...nor does my companion from Texas say it. Soo...yeah. That's a thing. XD A lot of small things have happened this prepare for once again a collage of my week, not necessarily in order. XD 

I gave my first training this week in district meeting. I was so nervous! Last week when they asked me I was so confused because I am so new...and everyone in my district that I would be "training" is at least 8 months more experienced as a missionary...and the training was supposed to be on being prepared to teach and teaching when you find people. I was like....I have only been doing this for like what...3 weeks?! But I prayed and studied a lot and it went well! I started by pretending that I didn't prepare for it and was just going to wing it and try to follow the spirit. ( I figured I could pull it off because I am new and all, and it was sooo good! XD) I then emphasized the importance of studying and preparing to teach people when we find them, rather than hoping we can just know the criteria enough and go by the Holy Ghost. It was funny and apparently memorable. That's what I was going for! I'm grateful for the experience to study for and give that training because, just like any talk we give in church or lesson we teach, it taught me sooo much!

We had a cool experience this week. When we were saying our prayer to be led by spirit as we were getting out of the car the other day, the number 57 popped in my head. Not really knowing why or what it meant. We had plans to walk to two trailer parks when we got out of the we went to number 57 on the first one. Not interested. Huh. We went to number 57 at the second one and that person is a new potential! (we didn't get to teach a message, but we are welcome to come back another time to share one) I don't know what will happen with her in the future, but I know that my faith in following the promptings of the Spirit has been strengthened so much from that experience!

This last week we went on exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders in our zone, which are also the YSA Sisters! So I got to go to Kelowna for 24 hours and street contact at bus stops and find YSA people! It got me out of my comfort zone for sure talking to random people on the street, because I am used to just knocking on doors in my area. It was such a cool experience and we were even able to find a new investigator for them! So cool! I was really able to see the Lord helping me have courage and guidance in many situations that day and watch how He leads us to people that are ready to be taught!

I have loved teaching these two sweet girls. (picture to be attached) We had a fun lesson this last week where we picked their favorite scripture story (Nephi getting the plates from Laban) and we read it out of the scriptures and acted it out. They loved it! I mean who wouldn't love watching Sister Thurber (Nephi) kill Laban?! (me) It was so fun and the girls really got to delve into the scriptures and find understanding! They are just 9 and 11 and know so much! They both accepted the invitation to be baptized yesterday. :) I love them so much!!

We had dinner at a sweet couple's RV trailer this week and they fed us so much food! I was so stuffed and then Sister Thurber asked for seconds. I was so impressed and then realized too late that the lady was dishing up seconds on my plate too! I, of course, had to eat it! It was so funny!

Conference talk I have LOVED this week and suggest y'all read: Stay By The Tree from May 2015 Ensign/April 2015 General Conference. Written by Kevin Pearson.MUST READ!! Love it so much! I read it after my whole Lehi's dream obsession and I was like :O THIS IS SO AMAZING! Sooo...yeah! Read it and love it if you wish :D

So we have been trying to think about ways to reach more people and help our investigators learn and progress. I have been feeling prompted to start a scripture study class a couple of times...and didn't said anything because I was like...I can't do that! But I finally gave in and brought it up with Sister Thurber. We talked about different approaches, brought it up in coordination and Ward Council...and Bishop announced it in church Sunday! of March 15th I will be leading a scripture study course with Sister Thurber to help people read and understand the Book of Mormon and apply it to their lives! I have faith that the Lord will really help me and Sister Thurber as we do this! I know it definitely wasn't my idea! We hope that it will allow many of our investigators who are slow and reading and comprehension or have social anxiety to relate and read! I know that the scriptures are such an amazing tool for all of us to use! We have them for a reason!! 

I know that this church is true and that we all have a Heavenly Father who loves us! He has given us everything!! We can trust Him with our whole lives! Because, well, He gave them to us!!! :D I love Him and am so grateful to serve Him every day!!

Love you all!!
Sister Van Valkenburg

Me having a conversation with a Canadian Goose. They are EVERYWHERE and are SO ANNOYING!!! :D But I love all of God's creations! ;) 
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We found a community library. You just take a book and leave a book. We didn't take anything...but guess what we left? ;) 
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The sweet girls I talked about!! LOVE THEM!!! 
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