Sunday, July 30, 2017

July 24,2017 Email :D

Happy 24th of July!

Did I really not realize that it's the 24th of July until I read an email saying "Happy 24th of July!" ? ....maybe. To my credit, I'm in Canada! ;)

This week we got transfer calls! Sister Kim and I are both staying here in beautiful Vancouver! Woot woot!! I'm so excited for another 6 weeks with my sweet companion in this CRAZY fun city! We are going to see MIRACLES!!

This week was really fun with activities! We were able to attend a baptism, do a service project with the Relief Society making blankets, and then we finally had a fireside that us and the Elders in our ward cooked up! It was so good! :D :D Converts from our ward shared their conversion stories and we had a beautiful musical number with cream puffs and donut holes! The Spirit was so strong, and our Bishop said that he wants to make it a tradition every 2-3 months!! We were able to have investigators at each event, and I loved just sitting back and watch them just take it in! One of them, Christine, told me afterward when I asked how she felt that she just can't get enough of it! She said that it's something that she needs now. That she absolutely needs to partake of each week and every chance she gets! I'm so happy for her and I love watching her progress!!! :) I'm so grateful for the sweet people that Heavenly Father allows me to be with in this area!

A lot of other things happened this week, and I just love seeing the miracles every single day! One of the best things, at least to me, is that I was able to get to JACOB 5 in our reading!! Anyone who is reading with me and the mish read it this week too! ;) I've read the Book of Mormon several times, but this time I took the 3 days we were given to really dissect it! I wrote every part down and tried to just follow the timeline of the olive tree!! I LOVED IT!!! Highly recommended to everyone reading Jacob's so good! Heavenly Father just loves us so much and wants us to be NOURISHED by the good word of God!!! He knows our individual needs and He will make sure that we will get everything that we need to accomplish the things that He commands us to!

Sorry this week is kinda short...hope y'all have an amazing week! <3
Sister Van Valkenburg

Sister Kim is modeling my latest creation. Contrary to her beliefs, my apple/banana/bread pudding was a huge success! Hahaha
When you take your shoes and socks off to discover why your foot felt a bit hot and sensitive
during the day...dangit I bought these shoes like a month ago!!!
Previously mentioned has a hole all the way through...the other...perfectly fine!!! Riddle me that!
Now the important thing in this picture isn't me or Sister Kim's faces. It's the thing that she is holding in her hands. Have y'all discovered these yet? Or is it just a Canadian thing? Anywho. These little things are mesmerizing! Fidgit spinners I believe they're called.They're dumb, just hold it and spin it on your fingers...but this little spinner decided to play David and Goliath with me! I spun it, and the little white circle (the weight) flew out and hit me square In the face! Hahah I guess that made me David AND funny!

Monday, July 17, 2017

July 17,2017 Email :D

6 Months Serving:

Wow. You read the caption right! I set foot in the MTC 6 months ago THAT is weird!!! It's a weird thing to think I just don't! Haha! :D I took a bit of time to reflect this morning on where I have been and where I am now...HOLY GUACAMOLE!!! Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways my friends, and I am proof of that! I am so grateful for all that I have learned on my mission thus far, and absolutely can't wait to see who Heavenly Father is going to help me to become!!

As some of you may know, I am not the biggest fan of seafood! But I decided when I started my mission that I would try anything that is put in front of me and just ask what it is after! I haven't had any crazy experiences....but this last week we had a nice Korean meal provided by a Chinese couple in the ward for us. I found out afterward that the yummy food I had eaten was in fact squid and anchovies! ...amongst other things, of course! Yummy! XP

I had a really cool experience this week on a bus! I am trying to get out of my comfort zone more, and especially with bus contacting! I told myself while getting on the bus, that I would sit next to and talk to the person on the bus that I felt would be the least receptive to the gospel and that I would have the hardest time talking to! He wasn't hard to find! The wonderful son of God that I sat next to had bright green hair, more tattoos than not, and quite a lot of metal to match! The tattoos covered even his face as he had bat tattoos on his cheeks, and though it doesn't really matter...he didn't have eyebrows either and I thought that was peculiar. He had sunglasses on and a purple polo...I kid you not, he looked like the Joker! I popped on down next to him and said "I like your hair! What inspired it?" He replied "The Joker" Whelp. That was surprising! This young gentleman is named Isaac, and has a return appointment to meet at the church tomorrow to learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ and how it can change his life! Will he show up? I don't know! But did Heavenly Father teach me an important lesson? OH YEAH!!! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone! :D

And now it's time for....another one of Alissa's analogies! ...catchy, no?
I have had a reoccurring dream on my mission that I just thought was funny or interesting until I was talking with Sister Kim this week, and I was able to recognize some meanings. She has had a very similar dream! She dreamt that she was on stage, ready to perform, but she didn't know the dance steps or the words. They asked her to do them, but she said that she couldn't...and wouldn't even try. She was frustrated because she didn't know what to do and couldn't meet the demands of those around her. As I listened to her dream, I was instantly able to connect that to her missionary work. She feels she doesn't know, so she says she can't and won't open her mouth. I know she has it in her, but she won't even try sometimes! I was then able to look at my dream. My dream I have had quite a few times and has been similar, with minor variations. I will be backstage, about to go on, when someone will inform me that I'm wearing the wrong costume, to go get my costume on, or that I'm in the production in the first place! I will rush around, trying to find my costume! Sometimes I can find it, sometimes I can't. Most times I don't even know what it is supposed to be! The time comes to go on stage...sometimes I'm handed lyrics to quickly read, sometimes I'm not! On stage, one of 3 things will occur. 1) I magically will know everything and give an "almost" flawless performance. 2) I will know nothing and try to find my way through, or 3) I will remember parts, and fumble through with either the help of those on stage with me or someone reading me my lines off stage. I distinctly remember one time in this dream acknowledging that I had had the dream before, and known what to do, but in that moment couldn't remember. WOW!!! What a perfect illustration of my missionary life!
Finding my costume, hurriedly reading the script and other preparation is my studies. It's my role playing and my meetings. When I'm out on stage, it's show time! I'm doing some proselyting, I'm teaching a lesson or I'm giving a training. When I rely on the Spirit (the voice off stage reading me my lines), my fellow missionaries and ward members (who are on stage with me) and my studies and experience, I will be more successful! I can look at my sweet companion and know, from my little experience so far as a missionary and in those dreams, that she needs to just open her mouth! WOW! Thank you Heavenly Father for this wonderful parable!

I'm so grateful for all that Heavenly Father gives us each day! It's the little things! The sun is shining, and the Son is always shining! Matthew 5:16!!!

Sister Van Valkenburg

Don't remember if I sent this...but we did blue face masks for the 4th of July! ...weren't that blue...but hey our faces are now...still about the same actually! Don't really get the concept..
Only sent this one for Sister Kim's face...XD We were locked out of a member's house this morning while we waited for her to get ready for the day...
My adorable mother sent us missionaries! (Twinkies) How cute is she?!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

July 4,2017 Email :D

You know...I'm not even mad that my P-day was moved to July 4th...because I REALLY
get to celebrate a good 4th of July!! Haha these Canadians celebrated on the first....(Canada Day) I didn't have the heart to tell them that they got it wrong...;) Oh well! We had a wonderful Canada Day where the streets were PACKED!! Especially at City center...wowie! We were shoulder to shoulder! That was really fun street contacting! There were police everywhere to do the traffic! I had one hand on my bag, one on my companion, and was smiling and saying hi to everyone else! We were able to have so many good conversations with happy people!!

This week is going so good! My sweet companion's leg has gotten a bit worse...and the other day she woke up and it was BOTH her legs! We were finally able to get her into a doctor, and the verdict is that it is her body's reaction to stress! How sad! :( I'm so grateful we were able to get that resolved, though! I just have such a strong testimony that Heavenly Father puts us with people that will help us grow! I see so many ways every day that only I can help her, and so many lessons that we go through each day that only Sister Kim and this situation could teach me! We see miracles every day!! :D

With this whole experience of being a trainer in a new city, I have been learning and growing A LOT!!! I spent a bit of time to reflect this week on what I am going through, really took time to get down on my knees and talk it out with my Heavenly Father. The answer that I got is that I need to take some time for myself. I have been focusing SO MUCH on my companion and how to help her, that I have neglected myself a bit! The scripture Mosiah 4:27 came up in my studies the other day and I know it was for a reason!

27And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order ; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order. 

I am so grateful for the support system that we have in the church! I have really learned this week two things. Well, re-learned (because that's what you do in life and as a missionary! You learn and re-learn!) 1) Use the resources that you are given! They are there for a reason! Never be afraid to ask for help! It doesn't show weakness! (contrary to my natural thought process) and 2) Take some time for yourself. You need it!

One of my favorite people this week is a sweet investigator named Bernice. I don't know if I have mentioned her yet, but she is 89 years old and has more spunk and sass than I think I do! And for those who know me....yeah. She's sassy! ;) We go and help her with things once a week and we teach her a lesson once or twice a week. She is awesome! She doesn't' remember everything quite as well as she used she reads it over and over again! She absolutely LOVES the missionaries! And she talks every time we come about how she just feels the spirit and no matter what kind of a day she is having, she always feels better when we come! I don't know if she will ever be baptized, we hope so, but I'm so grateful that she is able to feel and recognize the spirit!!! :) That is SO IMPORTANT!!!!!! Her neighbor across the street came over one day when the Elders were helping her. We are teaching her now, too! She's awesome as well!

Another cool experience this week: I was on the bus talking to the people around me, and such when I heard the words "Aaronic Priesthood" behind me. And it wasn't Sister Kim! I turned my head slightly, and saw this young boy, age 14-ish talking to his friends about THE PRIESTHOOD! I didn't know who the guy was at the time...but I was instantly so proud! I listened in a bit as he explained to them what the Priesthood is and how he is able to have it! We got off at the same stop, going to a dinner appointment, and this young man, named David Johnson, introduced us to his friends! Not only that, but he walked us to our dinner appointment (we didn't know where to go) and explained to his friends who missionaries are and how excited he is to one day serve a mission! He is going to be an amazing missionary!!!

Man! There were so many miracles this week, all small but significant! Our teaching pool is growing, my Spirit is rising, and my smile gets bigger every day! I love serving my Heavenly Father! I love wearing the name of my Savior on my chest and being able to tell people every day who I am and who I represent! I pray to always live worthy to represent my Savior!!!

Keep smiling! Enjoy your week and know that a little missionary in Vancouver Canada loves you!!!

Sister Van Valkenburg
Canada Day picture! Isn't the city beautiful?
Just one picture of a park like 2 blocks from my house...blessed!
This is Brother Lee! Him and his wife (photographer) had us over for "real Korean food" for Sister Kim! I ate the whole thing with chopsticks! And, of course, we sat on the floor.
Cliché selfie, but red white and blue for my country! woot woot! Oh..and my tan lline is definitely not going away any time soon...XD

June 26,2017 Email :D

Hello hello!

I am a little bit less scatter-brained than last hopefully things will go a little smoother! hahaha Sorry about my crazy email last week! Also, Exactly one year from today I will be on a plane home. Most-likely. Weird.

This week has been amazing! :) We are getting to know the area better, didn't get completely lost at any point, and the sun is shining! :D This week we also said goodbye to President and Sister Burt. They leave on Thursday...and I'm still a bit in denial about that! They have changed my life with their love, example and leadership! This Saturday we were able to go to Richmond for the evening and the ward there threw a huge party for the Burts. It was so sweet! I cried. They will always have a very dear place in my heart!! <3

This past week has been quite the adventure physically! My sweet companion woke up one morning and couldn't feel her left leg! That was quite a nice surprise for us! She told me that she was in a car accident 2 years ago and that afterwards she couldn't feel her leg for a whole month! She just shrugged it off and we went to work! (After calling the nurse of course) As the days have gone by, she has gained feeling in her leg...but that feeling is pain. :( We are working on getting her a doctor's appointment, but in the meantime we are just doing our best! She is such an amazing example to me of perseverance and dedication! Because of this challenge, though, it is taking us a lot longer time to get around. Double and sometimes triple the time. It has been a blessing! It has been hard, but I have been able to finally see that just because we move slower, doesn't mean that the work needs to be moving slower! Heavenly Father is still sending opportunities and miracles our way! One of those miracles came our way yesterday as we were on our journey home from dropping by someone's house.

We were at our bus stop, and checked the time. The bus wasn't coming for 20 minutes and there was nobody in sight to talk to. So, we started walking to the next bus stop. And then the next..and the next! We finally sat down determined to just wait it out, and hoped for somebody to come that we could talk to! Almost as soon as that thought crossed my mind, a man came up and sat down on the bench next to me. I turned to him and asked how his day was going. He opened right up! He told me about his family, his kids, his job, how his dad just died, how he feels about it, everything! I was able to share the whole Restoration with him and give him a Book of Mormon! Unfortunately, he will be moving to White Rock soon...but I was able to get his number right before he got off the bus, and we have been in contact! Miracles!

Another miracle happened this last week that started on the Skytrain. It has really grown my faith in just talking to everybody! Last Saturday, we were on the skytrain, and I got talking to two guys that seemed to be in their late 20's. They weren't too interested in the gospel, but we had a couple more stops to go, and one of them, Caleb, was pretty keen on just talking. So I just kept talking to him about Vancouver and why I'm here and what I do and he told me about places to go see. At the end of the conversation, I felt prompted to ask him if there was anyone that we could pray for. He said he couldn't think of anyone. So, also following a prompting, I gave him our number and said to call or text us if there was anyone. Then we got off! I didn't think about it again, until he actually texted us Monday! He said that he had thought of someone. His friend, Gabe, that was with him! He just didn't want to say anything in front of him! As we texted, Caleb also said that he had questions about our church's beliefs. I invited Caleb to come to a baptism this weekend, and he came! We passed him off to the YSA Elders, and he is now a new investigator of the church, reading the Book of Mormon and soaking it all up! MIRACLES!!!! :D

I am so grateful for the blessing of being here! I talked about it a couple weeks ago, but really the miracles and blessings are ALWAYS all there if we just look for them! God is so good! The church is true, and it WILL change your life! Just open your heart. :) I love you all! Have an amazing week!!!

Sister Van Valkenburg

June 19,2017 Email :D

​​​​​​​​Hello hello!
I have arrived! I'm here! I made it! I'm in the big city! I wanted to sing "Good Morning [Vancouver]!" But that's the wrong word and it's I didn't ;) (Apostate doesn't mean it's bad, just that I'm not supposed to sing it on my mission. No worries folks! you can still sing it all you want) Wow! I'm here! Can you tell how well my brain is working right now? No bueno! I'm still so overwhelmed but so excited! And there is peace in my heart for sure! I know that I am where Heavenly Father needs me to be! Day 1, I actually took a greyhound up here to Vancouver! Along with what seemed like the rest of my zone in Kelowna! Hahah we had a lot of transfers! But I was able to come up with beautiful Sister Limb, who got transferred to Delta! She's going to be amazing! We said goodbye to our companions (love you Sister Miller!) and got on the bus around 8. Along the way, everyone got off the bus and at the last stop I sallied forth to meet my new Sister Training Leaders! Sister Hunt and Sister Herd are the best! I'm so excited to be working with them this transfer! I was SO PUMPED to be with them! I knew that my "trainee" wouldn't get here until Wednesday and I wouldn't meet her Thursday, so I had 2 days to learn the ropes from these lovely missionaries! Psych! I was paired up with Sister Zhang, Mandarin speaking YSA, while waiting for my companion! She is so cute!! Sadly, I don't have any pictures, but we just had a blast together! She was also waiting for her new companion. I learned a bit of mandarin, which turns out is really needed here, where like 90% of the population is Asian!

The day finally came on Thursday, where I was able to meet my new companion! Introducing: Sister Kim! Hailing from South Korea, she is so beautiful and sweet! No, she did not know English before the MTC, so we are going to have fun as I teach her not only missionary work, but English as well! :O And maybe I will be able to learn some Korean while we're at it! ;) Heavenly Father definitely has some miracles up His sleeve for this transfer, I can just feel it! :D

We have been able to visit some members in the hospital, meet the wonderful ward, and just contact everywhere! Some of the contacting has been on purpose, and some has been on we don't have a car or GPS! We have bus routes and a sky train! It has been a real adventure learning how to get around Vancouver for sure! It just blows my mind as we walk around how much love I feel for each individual person! I am so grateful for the calling of being a missionary here! There are so many people to talk to and so many lives to help turn to God! It is such a privilege being able to bear testimony to everyone I see that I have in my possession a book that can change their lives and a gospel that has been restored with the book that will bless them more abundantly than they could imagine! There will never be a shortage of people to talk to here, that's for sure and I'm so grateful for that!

Keep reading the Book of Mormon! It will change your life! And something that has really helped me this week, in probably the most stressful week of my mission, know that God has a plan. Know that He will take care of you. Know that despite how inadequate you may feel or how lost, He will always know exactly who you are, where you are, and where you are headed. I'm so grateful for the gospel! I'm so grateful for each and every one of yoU!

Sister Van Valkenburg

Sister Clark, my MTC companion, is also training!! It was soooo good to see her again!
Our new companions were also MTC companions!!!!! They're both named Sister Kim!! Go figure!!! :O
What do you do when you're waiting in the elevator?! Hahah I love my sweet companion!!! She's SO GOOD!

June 12,2017 Email :D

Hey everyone!
I'm going to be completely honest....I don't remember a whole lot of the beginning of this week...and haven't had time to really get my thoughts together....hopefully if you get anything out of this email, it will be that I love missionary work and know that Heavenly Father knows what he is doing!! :D 

The beginning of this week, we were without our car. It was in the shop...because some Sister Missionary drove it into a ditch a couple weeks ago and it had a dent in it that they wanted to fix. I don't know who could have driven so recklessly....but I'm sure that it was just an accident on her part! ;) So yeah, because of my wonderful driving skills we were on foot. BUT we saw so many miracles!!! We were able to meet so many amazing people just on the street (And that's saying a lot because there aren't a lot of people on the streets here). One of the cool things that happened: we were waiting for our bus one day and sat down on the bench next to a man. When he turned his head, I realized that it was one of the former investigators of the Elders! He dropped completely off the grid about a month ago! We were able to have a mini lesson with him for about 20 minutes while we waited for the bus! Such a miracle!!

We had a really cool lesson with Bella and Roger this week on CPR. (Church Pray Read) and had a cool miracle. There is a lady in our ward that actually lives in Alberta, but is here for a week. Her name is Sister Young. She came up to us at church and said that she would love to come to lessons with us if we need her! So, we invited her to come to our lesson with Bella and Roger. She was perfect! Bella struggles with Fibromyalgia  and both kinds of Sleep-apnia. We learned during the lesson that Sister Young has the exact same health problems!  It was an amazing lesson with the spirit so strong....I love missionary work! I love Roger and Bella!

So the big news....This week is transfers, and I was called on Saturday! I was told that I will be transferring to Vancouver 1st! It's basically downtown Vancouver. I will also be training somebody fresh out of the MTC! Crazy! My gut reaction, on the call was to be scared. But as soon as the assistant told me where I was going and what I would be doing, that fear was pushed out by an overwhelming feeling of peace. I am honestly terrified. Vancouver is a big city with a lot of people, and I will be training. It's a big responsibility. But I know that Heavenly Father trusts me to do this. He has called me to go and I will go and do! Proverbs 3:5-6 (my favorite scripture) has never been more real to me. I am so grateful to be worthy of this calling and will do my best to fulfill it! 

I absolutely love West Kelowna! Saying goodbye to different ward members this week was really hard. I didn't realize how much I have really come to love all these people! One boy, who just barely turned 12, has me sign the back of this huge wooden sign he has in his room. A former missionary made it for him and signed the back with a message. I was the first sister to make the board! Woop woop! Really though, West Kelowna will always hold a very special place in my heart! 

Have an amazing week everyone! Know that Heavenly Father knows you and that he will send you (whether it be moving cities or down a different isle of the grocery store) exactly where you need to be! Just follow Him. :) I love the Gospel! I love this church! It is God's kingdowm on the earth!

Sister Van Valkenburg

Pictures...not sure what order they are in...but...
1:  My district!
2: We took a fun shadow picture
3: the dandelions here are HUGE!!!Displaying IMG_0187.JPGDisplaying IMG_0177.JPGDisplaying IMG_0178.JPG

June 5,2017 Email :D

I love all of God's creations, and I believe there is a purpose for everything, but ....mosquitoes?! REALLY!?!?! Sometimes I really wonder about the idea of putting mosquitoes on the earth...but hey, I'm sure there is a valid reason! They're HUGE here! Like I thought they were pesky in Utah but bueno! With the lake rising and the flooding lately, it has been a lot more humid here than usual and the mosquitoes are everywhere! It's quite the blessing when somebody lets us in the door, for more reasons than to teach the gospel! Hahaha we are itching, slapping, and waving as we talk to people on doorsteps! We must look a sight! Hahaha...we also have had a lot more spiders try to move in with us this week. I believe we found 4 this morning. Joyous! Hahaha really though, it is such a grand adventure and it just keeps things interesting, right?! XD

This week I was able to finish the Book of Mormon along with the rest of my mission. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to start with everyone, as they started it in January and I got here at the beginning of February, but it was still such an amazing experience to be able to close the last page, get on my knees, and ask Heavenly Father once again if the Book of Mormon is true. I can testify that it is true, that it is without a doubt the word of God, and that it contains the answers, guidance, and revelation that we all seek in our lives. We just need to open the pages and read! :) As a mission, we started reading the Book of Mormon again on June 1st. We will finish on December 25th, as a gift to our Savior. I am so excited and so grateful for the opportunity that I have to read it again! I know that through my obedience to the promptings I receive from reading the Book of Mormon, I will be able to see miracles!! :D

Remember Bella and Roger from last week? Well.....they're on date to be baptized on July 8th! They are so good! We have taught them about 3 times this last week and plan on keeping that pattern going! I just love them so much and it is always such a treat to be able to go to their house and share another message of the restored gospel! When we saw them on Saturday, they had already read the pamphlet we were going to be teaching out of (We left it with them so they could come up with questions for our lesson and know what to expect) Roger commented really thoughtfully that he had read the pamphlet and loved what it said about repentance. He said that he struggles with low self esteem and he learned that repentance can help him with that. That was such a deep and thought out connection!! I was so happy! I just love watching him and Bella grow as they not only hear our message, but internalize it and apply it to their lives! I know that's what I need to be doing in church and my studies and everything that I do! I learn so much as I teach! Isn't that just so cool?! Mission man, they're so amazing! :D

We had kind of a funny phone call with one of our favorite less-actives in the ward. Her name is Hazel. She has a birthday this week, and had invited us over for dinner to celebrate. She called us the morning of to cancel. She said that she had been sick in the hospital all night!! We asked why she had been in the hospital, and she said she had made some hamburger patties for herself the night before and ate them...and they didn't sit well with her. Sister Miller commented "Aw man! They must have been some bad hamburger patties" and Hazel says "Oh no! They were DELICIOUS!!!" XD We just died laughing! I guess you had to hear her enthusiasm as she said it...but oh boy that was a funny phone call! XD

Lately we have been meeting with all of the auxiliaries in the ward and compiling lists from them for members and less-actives that need visits from us and such. It really has been so inspiring! We were able to drop by the house of a Sister Cooper whom the Relief Society President said is just lonely. When we came, she sat down with us and just poured her heart out. Because of recent experiences in her life, one of them happening just a few days before we came, she believes she has lost her testimony and spirit. She just cried as she told us that she is giving up. She stopped going to church, praying, and one of the things she loves, singing. We were able to bear testimony of her ability to keep growing her testimony and to have the relationship with Heavenly Father that she desires. We were able to sing a hymn with her, and she just cried and cried. :) She said that she did indeed feel the spirit. I know that we were sent to her by inspiration through a loving Relief Society President. I am so grateful for the experience I had to be able to be a tool in the Lord's hands in her life to lift her that day! It lifted me. :) 

I have a lot of pictures coming your way this a little camera I apologize in advance! But I just want everyone to know that I love this gospel! I love being able to bring it into the lives of all those around me here in West Kelowna, and I know that Heavenly Father loves each of us individually! He knows us!!! Have such an amazing week!!!

Sister Van Valkenburg

Just love the sunsets here! (Sister Miller took this picture, no worries!)
We found this gem in the hallway of Sister Cooper's apartment complex. Yes, this is a taxidermy dog. Yes, Sister Miller tried to pet it to see if it's real. It's real. Real taxidermy. XP
We had a wonderful walking day and while we were walking home (an entire hour uphill. It was wonderful! Apparently I was saying "Ow" in my sleep that night whenever I moved! Hahah) we saw a couple deer in the vineyards! So cool!
This is Hazel. We love her! She came to church for the second week in a row this week!

May 29,2017 Email :D

I know I said the sun came out last week...but holy cow did it come out this week!! I have a watch tan line! I never get those! :O ...mainly because I have never worn a watch....but it still makes me giggle! The first couple of days I forgot to wear sunscreen...hence the title of this email...but I'm doing good and everything is tanned up again. :) 

One of the biggest struggles the past couple weeks has been WATER. We are on boil water notice, and have been for the past 3 weeks. The water here is contaminated, so until further notice we are having to boil our drinking water before we drink it, or buy bottled water. It's like camping! So fun!

We started the week with a wonderful combined Zone Conference. :) It was really emotional, because it was our last Zone Conference with President and Sister Burt...but it was so good! We had so many good role plays and trainings...I took pages and pages of notes! I was asked to lead the music, and for the closing song of the whole conference we stood and sang "Called to Serve." I looked around as we sang and everyone was just crying...the spirit was just so strong! It was a really cool experience. :) After the conference, President Burt took the time to have a 2 minute final interview with each of us. I am just so grateful for him and his love and service he has dedicated to each and every one of us during his time here. :) Of course, he isn't leaving for another month...but man! Saying goodbye this week was tough! I will forever be grateful for him and the things I have learned from him and Sister Burt. :) 

This week was full of miracles, too! They're all there if you just look for them! That's something that I've really been learning and trying to apply. You can go through the day noticing and looking for the little miracles or you can go through the day waiting for a big miracle to happen. Rarely will I find myself having a good day if I'm just doing the latter. :) 

We were able to find 5 new investigators this week! (That's big in this area. We have had many weeks without any) Two of them are husband and wife, and the other group is a mom and her two kids. :) They are all just awesome! Bella and Roger, the couple, have sooooo many questions which is soooooo good! As we taught them the Plan of Salvation, we were peppered with questions about our religion (polygamy, blood transfusions, heaven vs hell, you name it) and somehow, with the help of the Spirit, we were able to tie EVERYTHING into the Plan of Salvation while teaching simple doctrine. The Spirit was so strong! Bella and Roger were so good, too! They weren't arguing, just answering questions, and they were just highlighting the pamphelt! I loved it! The mom and her two girls were so good too! We were able to teach them the Restoration and the spirit was so strong in their lesson! Cindy, the mom, was just crying as she felt the Spirit. :) We were able to help her recognize that what she was feeling was the Spirit, I can't type my thoughts really well today....but it was just so good! Just know that! :D

I had the opportunity yesterday to go to my first baptism on my mission. A man named Carlos was baptized. Because he only speaks Spanish, the entire service was in Spanish! It was such a remarkable experience...I haven't taken much Spanish in my life, but somehow I was able to understand the majority of what was said at the baptism. :) The Spirit was so strong, and many of the ward members commented after that they had never felt the Spirit so strong at a baptism. :) It was a beautiful experience to be a part of. 

I just love this gospel and love being a missionary! Have an amazing week!!
Sister Van Valkenuburg

Sorry for the crooked angle...but I'm still obsessed with the clouds. :D
We met this friendly dog at a lady's house as we were knocking doors. He LOVED this rock. Just sat there with it in his mouth the whole time we talked to the lady. XD She wasn't interested in learning more about the Restored Gospel...but hey, I got a picture of her dog!
I mentioned last week that we helped sandbag at a bible camp. Well, this is a picture taken from a park. All of the parks here are closing because the lake water has gotten so high, there is no beach! The snow is melting from the mountains, and the lake just keeps rising! People down by the lake are on evacuation notice if they haven't already been evacuated, and we are expecting the lake to go up 6 more inches and keep rising until July! There have been a lot of service opportunities, to say the least! In this picture, there is a little hut looking thing in the lake. That's actually a dock that has been submerged in the water! Crazy!

May 22, 2017 Email :D

Wow! This week has been a beautiful week! The sun has been shining, we have seen so many miracles, and I have just been able to see myself grow sooo much as an individual and as a missionary! I love these weeks! :) 

Saturday morning, we got a text from a sister in the ward saying that a bible camp near us that her brother works at was in danger of flooding and they had sent out a call for help to fill and place sand bags. We were over there as soon as we could! (With name tags on of course ;) ) We were able to spend a good chunk of time helping people fill sandbags to be placed along the shore of the lake on the camp. They cover a lot of land, and since they are right next to the water's edge, and there has been a lot of rain and the snow in the mountains is starting to melt...they are in real danger of flooding! One of my favorite parts of the whole experience was standing in line, shoulder to shoulder, with members of different Christian churches from around the area and passing filled bags down the line to be packed in place. We were unified. It is a place that I didn't think that I could feel the Spirit so strong...but wowza! It was there! So many people, noticing our name tags, were instantly like "Wow! Thank you so much for coming to help!" So many good conversations were able to be had, so many opportunities to love and serve as we served each other. I am so grateful for that experience!

We were having a member finding meeting with a family in our ward the other day, and we shared a message on charity. As we were talking, a comment was made by a sister that sometimes it is hard for her to put herself in other people's shoes and have charity for them. A thought came to my of those things you already know, but it hits you in that moment....that Jesus Christ has already walked in all of our shoes. Not only does that apply to each of us in our given circumstances, but it applies to when we are trying to help others. Sometimes I forget that He knows my friends individually as well. When we are trying to know how to walk in somebody else's shoes, we can ask the one who has already done it for us. :) I love my Savior! 

We had a miracle happen this last week that starts a few weeks rewinding...story time! :) As we knock doors, we leave cards with our number on them in doors, giving people a chance to find the gospel that may not be home! The only experience I have had with that so far has been someone calling to complain that we left a card in their door, and they were away for 3 months, therefore they couldn't take it out and therefore all their neighbors knew they were out of town...hahaha they were so mad at us! Oops! Sorry for trying to share the restored gospel with you! ;) Anywho...a couple weeks ago we received a text message from who we later came to know as Ben. He said that we had left a card in his door, and that he was interested in learning about our church and maybe attending one of our services! Like what?! Miracles!! I honestly thought it was a joke...because it just never happens! We set up an appointment to see him, and boy was I a ball of nerves going to that appointment! This is our miracles potential investigator, whom at this point all we knew is that he is 24 and lives with his mom...we knock on the door and around the corner comes Ben. The lesson was amazing. :) We met outside, as there wasn't another female present...but it went so well! We were able to teach him the restoration, and he accepted the invitation to be baptized! Sadly, because he is YSA and a male, we will be passing him off to the Zone Leaders this week...but I am just so grateful for the MIRACLE of being able to find and teach him! I am gaining such a testimony that we just need to be worthy of Heavenly Father's referrals, and He will give them to us! 

Wow! I am just beaming right now. :) Heavenly Father has blessed us with so much!! I just love knowing that He is there for all of us, no matter what, ya know?! Also, weird to think that all of you are starting your summer vacations here pretty dang weird! Enjoy the nice weather! I know I am!! Haha 

Sister Van Valkenburg

Miracle: We went back to visit a potential, and his wife answered the door. We were able to have a really nice conversation with her about the gospel, and set a return appointment for a week later because they are going out of town. She got really excited and asked if we like jam...and ran to go grab some for us! As she was going to get the jam, she yelled to her husband excitedly "We are going to have bible study with the Sister Missionaries on Friday!" We just about died laughing! Hahaha we had been talking about the Book of Mormon...I can't wait until Friday! :) And here is a pretty picture of our jam with the view from their house. Stunning!
Another picture without the jam jars. I am obsessed with clouds still...and absolutely loved these ones. :)
We were on a walk with a girl named Ashley, who was wearing a pig onesie when we met her and walking down the road, and saw these ducks just chilling on a fence! Thought I would grab a picture. :)

​Tan lines from my shoes! Proof that the sun is here! hahaha I love it! You get the weirdest tan lines as a missionary, let me tell ya! Hahaha the best is the line you get on your chest from your bag strap going across. XD It's so fun! I love being a misisonary! :D