Tuesday, August 29, 2017

August 28,2017 Email :D

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have an amazing week everyone!!
Sister Van Valkenburg

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

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

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

August 21,2017 Email :D

Hi y'all!
Oh the mission life! So good! :) I absolutely love P-days because they give me a time to sit down and reflect on what has happened this past week. :) I'm going to keep it short and simple this week!

As I have been studying the life of Jesus Christ, I have been reading Jesus the Christ. SUCH a great book! Highly recommended! I have been avoiding it for most of my mission thus far because it's really big and I ZERO time to read these days...but really...just like I have learned over and over again, you can always make more time for the Lord!! :D Reading this book has filled me with so much wonder and love for my Savior! Though I am still pretty much at the beginning, I am learning so much just about how we truly are nothing without Him! I love my Savior so much and am so grateful every moment of every day for all that He does for me!

Miracle moment!! 
When we were rushing out of the house the other day, I grabbed my water bottle and realized it was only filled about a quarter of the way. We were just on our way to a lunch appointment and then would be back after for our companionship study, etc...so I was like "eh, I can make it on this much water for now." Also, my water bottle is one of those nice metal ones that keeps my water cold quite long...and weighs a lot. So any less weight is beneficial! As we were heading out the door, I felt prompted to fill it up and wash it. So, not really thinking about it, I dumped out the water, washed it, filled it, and we left! As we walked to the bus stop people were just getting off the bus and on the bus, so we ended up being the only ones there. I looked around and saw a lady sitting on a bench and hunched over. I walked over and sat down next to her, asked her how she was doing. She immediately just opened up! She was in severe pain, slowly making her way to the doctor. She had broken her leg the day before and had never broken a bone. She went on for a time and I listened, she just needed to vent...bless her heart her whole face was purple around her eyes because she had fallen out of bed from the pain and landed on her face! I asked her if there was anything at all I could do for her, and she thought for a minute and said "if I had my bank card, I would ask you to go buy me a water, but I don't have it with me." Wow. I pulled out my water bottle, and she drank almost the whole thing instantly! Then she hobbled away to the doctor, expressing her gratitude. I honestly don't remember much of what she said, I was just sitting there in awe. Heavenly Father really testified to me in this small experience that he is so aware of each of us! He led me to fill up my water bottle, make it clean for her, and be at that bus stop at the right time. I know that he is there for us in every aspect of our lives, and am so grateful I got to help this sweet lady in a hard time!

Quote that I love:
"Hope is trust in God's promises, faith that if we act now, the desired blessings will be fulfilled in the future." - James E Faust
That's about it this week! :) Short and simple. I hope you all have the best week ever!! 
hananimun, oo deh duh, sarahng hashin dah!! (Korean for "God loves you")

Sister Van Valkenburg

​Modesty is important, Marilyn!! Jeez! Fun finds here in Van City. :) 
This week I passed 7 months...that's crazy...and so we celebrated by going to the Chinese bakery that is downstairs from our apartment and got cheesecake! Woot woot!

​There are wild berries down random sidewalks here in Vancouver! I always pick one or two and eat it..and Sister Kim is just appalled! She has a thing with germs...we go through hand sanitizer like....(Insert metaphor of something that goes through something quickly...can't think of anything that isn't completely ridiculous right now.) Anywho! I finally got her to try one! I have it on video...so funny! She made me wash them with my water and then she still almost didn't eat it! ...and it was a sour one..! SO funnY! 

August 14,2017 Email :D

Oh goodness gracious, people!! Didn't I just sit down to write y'all an email yesterday? I'm not complaining! Haha time is such a strange concept!

This last week I had a real comin to Jesus!! It's fun how on your mission it's a rollercoaster of emotions and events! (like life...just a bit more....idk. Like life!) You are constantly readjusting, relearning and rededicating yourself to the Lord! It's so important! This week we had an exchange with the Sister Training Leaders and I was so pumped! You always see miracles, and always learn so much on exchange! But this time, I fell apart. I don't know what happened! Instead of learning new techniques from my sweet leader, I was sobbing and telling her that I was a failure! That's not the way I roll! I know that Heavenly Father was DEFINITELY humbling me! The result of the whole hoop-la was realizing that once again, I really needed to dedicate myself to my Heavenly Father. My conversion was left on the side for a minute as I focused on other things, and that is NO BUENO!!! So I am rededicating myself every day! And I zoomed out and found a quality that is in dire need of further development in my life: charity!

In the Gospel Principles manual it has 4 steps to developing charity = the pure love of Christ = I NEED!!
1) Study the life of Jesus Christ
2) Pray to have greater charity
3) Learn to love ourselves
4) Avoid thinking you are better

As I commit myself to "rise to a greater sense of commitment" [PMG] I need to become more converted! I can't teach someone and help them to become converted beyond my own conversion! I can't lift somebody, without first being on higher ground. Therefore, I am studying my Savior, who is the perfect example of lifting and conversion! I was reading through my MTC journal, and found a quote from Elder Bednar that taught me that if I go looking for myself, I will never find it! But if I go looking for my Savior...then will I become who He needs me to be and end up exactly where I need to be!

 There's a quote in "Our Search for Happiness" [awesome book by M. Russell Ballard] that I would love to share!

"That's the way it is when Jesus Christ becomes a reality in your life. It isn't that He somehow makes you do things that you wouldn't do otherwise. Rather, you find yourself wanting to do what He would do and respond as He would respond in an effort to bring your life into harmony with His. And an interesting thing happens whenever you attempt to place your feet in Christ's footsteps. If you really concentrate on trying to walk the way He walked - loving, caring, serving, and obeying each step of the way - one day you'll look up and discover that His path has led you directly to the throne of God. For that is and ever has been His great purpose and mission: to lead us to our Heavenly Father so we can dwell with Him in His heavenly home."

2 Corinthians 5:17
"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

As I strive to follow the example of my Savior, I know that He will mold me into the missionary He needs me to be! I'd like to challenge y'all to join me! Rise to a new sense of commitment to follow our Savior! :) I know that we all will see miracles!!

Miracle that happened earlier in the week, we had an appointment, and when we arrived for the appointment, we were told that they would not be home for 30 min or so...so we went out our backup! We had felt prompted that morning to plan a nearby street for knocking as our backup. As we walked down the street, we quickly realized that it was all apartment complexes that you need to buzz in....pretty common here....so we felt a little bit at a loss! We continued walking, determined to find the reason that Heavenly Father had prompted us to come here, and lo and behold, there was a sweet Filipino family outside! Mom, Liselle, and dad, Nester, welcomed us instantly to join them on the porch for some water and a nice conversation!! They moved here from the Philippines about 5 years ago, and had had missionaries over to their home there. As Liselle and I talked, I felt prompted to share a scripture and an experience with her. The Spirit was SO STRONG!!! She smiled and thanked me, saying that she hadn't had a scripture read to her the whole time she had been here in Canada!! Well..long story short, they are new investigators for us and friends forever!! :) I love them so much and as they have committed themselves to reading the scriptures again and meeting with us, I am so excited to see what Heavenly Father has planned for them!!

Speaking of Filipinos....for anyone that isn't familiar with their culture...they LOVE to PARTAY!!! Woot woot!! We got invited last minute to a party at the church that they had for two little boys turning 1. We went for our dinner break. HOLY COW!! They decked the gym out with balloons, banners, and monkey balloons..they had 3 tier cakes, and a banquet to feed an army! Kids were running around playing games, and adults were enjoying it all just as much!! It was a P-A-R-T-Y!!! As we sat eating and getting to know more members of the ward, one of the dads started a game with all the kids. He would gather them all together, call out an item, and then they all had to go find one of that item and bring it back to him. The first/best item wins! It was pandemonium! Suddenly I hear "Missionary name tag!" and Sister Kim and I look at each other with panic in our eyes! Next thing we know, there is a stampede of about 20 kids running towards us and grabbing, grabbing, grabbing! So funny!! I think that the brother in charge was out to get us, because just a couple minutes later, he also called out "Book of Mormon!" And we were hit with another stampede!! We didn't get it as bad as the Elders, though, who walked in right after he yelled "Belt!" The poor guys were literally pulled across the room by their belt buckles...and were quite confused!! So much fun! XD
Here's a picture of my sweet companion eating her Filipino food! Yummy yummy!

This week we also had a fun picnic at Kitsilano beach as a Relief Society. Here's a cute pic of some of my favorite people in the universe!! On the far left is the sweet lady that did my nails, with her daughter, Rainbow! Next to her is my crazy ward mission leader's wife! She's a hoot and a half! Next to her is Sister Torman...she leaves tomorrow to go home to Utah...I love her dearly!! She loves everyone with perfect charity! In front of them, sitting down, is Sister Ross! We go help her in her garden sometimes...sweetest thing ever! In the blue is a sweet lady whose name I can't remember...but I love her! Then Sister Kim, me, and Carolina!! Carolina is from Brazil and was baptized with her husband, Rafael 11 months ago! She is SO SWEET and we are currently working with them to get them to the temple! On the far right is our super star Relief Society President, Sister Blumel. She does EVERYTHING for EVERYONE!! And on the chair to the right is the love of my life: two bite brownies!! So good! ;)
I didn't mention the sweet lady in front with the baby yet because she gets a special moment and another picture! Her name is Sister Lee, and she is Korean! Weeks back I sent a pic eating dinner with her husband and Sister Kim! This week she surprised us with some fun Korean food in a bag at the church! The bag was about the size of Sister Kim, I swear! I was so excited until we opened it up! See pics below!
Dried fish!! Shrimp!! And my favorite: Anchovies!!! If you zoom in closely, you can probably make eye contact with a couple! XP

Contrary to my face in the picture above...I love you all so much!! Have such an amazing, Christ-centered week!

Sister Van Valkenburg

Friday, August 11, 2017

August 8,2017 Email ;D

Hello hello!!

Yesterday was BC day, so we emailed today!! I asked a couple of people what BC day is all about in transit to start conversations...they didn't really know what is was....but that's okay! Because I knew about a different message that could change their lives! ;)
The sun is shining out here in Vancouver! And it's RED!! Because of the forest fires going on all over British Colombia...apparently you can see them from space...the air is full of smoke and the sun is red! It's crazy! Some people are even wearing masks and there are people warning us every day not to go running or anything because the air is dirty. Whether it is related to the muggy air or not, we also hit a record here in Van City! 36 degrees!!! Apparently, it hasn't gotten that hot here since the 1900s or something. I don't remember the year, but a lady on the bus was very excited about it! ;)
Update on my missionary wardrobe: I have 3 pairs of proselyting shoes and all 3 now have holes in the bottom! :P They are my "holy" shoes. ;)
We had a wonderful meal with a sweet older lady in the ward who was baptized about 15 years ago. She fed us some mystery meat Chinese food..it tasted good! She's Filipino and didn't want to cook, so she picked up some food and heated it up...packaging was in Chinese so...we all learned together! Sister Kim swears that it was all chicken except the short ribs...but I've had a lot of chicken in my life and I don't think I've had at least that particular part of the chicken....who knows! Tasted good! ;) As we were eating, she looked at me and said quite seriously "Do they sell chocolate in Utah?" OF COURSE!! I say, we love chocolate!! She was appalled! Since our religion is so prominent in Utah, and chocolate has caffeine in it, she was shocked that the state would sell chocolate! We had quite the interesting conversation. :) To say the least!

My spiritual thought today has to do with the above picture.. I bought this watch last P-day, because mine broke, and while riding the skytrain home I realized that the second hand was broken! What the...? I just bought it like an hour ago! Instead of taking it back, I decided to keep it. It still works, after all! But I was really thinking about that second hand...and I felt another little analogy coming on. :) Lately, I have been SO STRESSED about where I need to be, who I need to be talking to, I need to use EVERY SINGLE SECOND of Heavenly Father's time wisely!! That's true..every second is precious, but I realized that I wasn't living in the moment. I would be talking to someone on the bus, and be glancing out of the corner of my eye every other second at the front of the bus where it says what stop is next. When my second hand broke, I had to go minute-to-minute instead of second-to-second. A lot changed this week in my conversations with people as I really took this to heart! How much of our lives do we spend counting seconds instead of living every minute of our lives to the fullest capacity? I truly have seen a difference from living each minute of my days this week and plan to use each second of Heavenly Father's time wisely...as I focus on each minute!

I am so grateful for every second that Heavenly Father gives us, and for every minute that I am able to spend as a missionary here in the Canada Vancouver mission!! There are miracles around every corner, and I am so blessed to be a part of them! I love you all and I love my mission! Have an amazing week!

Sister Van Valkenburg

Sister Kim made me some Korean food! Korean rice, egg, and seaweed! Did I mention that we have an entire cupboard dedicated to her seaweed? True story!!

Went to Chipotle for the first time in my life! It was delicious!! I will admit, though....I'm still a Café Rio girl at heart. ;) <3

Sunday, August 6, 2017

July 31,2017 Email :D

Hello hello!
Another week has flown by in Van City!! ...apparently that's what people here call Vancouver? Something. Idk. I'm trying to be cool and....*cough cough* anyway! :) It's Monday again and life is grand!

This last week we have been busy, busy, busy! We had quite the adventure Saturday and Sunday! A man in the ward informed me last Sunday that he would be singing in sacrament meeting and asked if I would accompany him to Come Thou Fount. uh...only my favorite song! Yes! Texted him quite frequently throughout the week...and he finally met us at the church SATURDAY NIGHT with the sheet music! We have 9:00 church, people! Turns out, the sheet music was NOT Come Thou Fount, but it was The Lord's Prayer!!! What?! This was no simple hymn, people I can tell you that! I couldn't back out at this point, and poor Sister Kim (Who has an amazing opera voice) ended up getting dragged into this wonderful ensemble! Hahaha come Sunday morning we walked up to the front during sacrament meeting and performed a beautiful rendition of The Lord's Prayer, me on the piano and Sister Kim singing a duet. We had angels helping us for sure, and it all worked out swimmingly! But boy oh boy was that an adventure! After that, we threw together a quick lesson and taught Primary as well! I love the opportunities that we have as missionaries! Though there is something that I learned through all of this...nothing is completely spur of the moment or "winging it" when you have prepared as Heavenly Father needs you to. I didn't completely "wing" the piano, because I have practiced in the past. My daily studies and experience in primary helped me to teach the sweet kids...and Heavenly Father knew exactly what I was going to face in that Sunday. He provided the means for me to accomplish the things that He commanded! :D

One day this week we were challenged by our District Leader to have the pamphlets in our mind when we talk to people. He promised that as we did that we would have the opportunity to use them to help people and teach the gospel. I was sitting on the bus, a bus that we had not planned on taking but followed the Spirit to get on, and a husband and wife sat down a couple seats down from me. I felt prompted to talk to them, and kind of yelled across the bus something about the weather. They smiled and started talking back! So I scooted over and had a really nice conversation with them about Vancouver, as they were visiting, and searched for something to share with them, keeping in mind the pamphlets! I asked them what brought them here, and instantly the mood changed. They were here for the burial of their 2 month old granddaughter. *enter Plan of Salvation pamphlet* I was able to bear testimony simply about how their sweet granddaughter is in a better place, and as they had to get off at the next stop, hurried and gave them the Plan of Salvation pamphlet. I have experiences like this every day, but this one really stood out to me because of the commitment I had made to a leader. I know that as we set goals and really aim to achieve them that Heavenly Father will bless us with miracles!

Another cool experience, we were able to have a last minute lunch with a returning less-active family, an investigator, and a ward member! That was a party! If y'all remember last week's email about a certain figit spinner and it's attack to my face....that was at their house! So for our message that we shared, we told the story of David and Goliath. XD I thought I was so funny! But in all seriousness, we shared about how when David prepared to face his giant, he selected FIVE small stones, not just one. And when he walked up to Goliath, he had his sling already in his hand. He was ready to fight. He was prepared! Sister Kim shared with us that in the MTC she learned of these 5 stones to be the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Faith, repentance, baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I know that as we carefully select our stones (may be more than 5) to face our giants, and walk toward them with faith, ready to sling, Heavenly Father will guide our stones to hit direct center! However, key points I learned this week...there may be many giants. There ARE. But we can only hit one at a time. And we have to ACT!  We can't just stare at the stones in the river or put them in our bag. We need to walk forward with faith. :) Random thoughts from Sister V...as usual! :D

Funny story:
So we live in an apartment building with two other sets of Sisters and one set of Elders. So it's a weird day if you don't run into at least one other set of missionaries going in or out around the street we live on! We were doing out studies the other day, and we get a phone call around 7:30 from the Elders. "Uh...hey sisters....we were just dropping off a missionary and we forgot our keys....could you let us in? So sorry." We live on the 4th floor and the elevator was broken...so we hustled down in our fab workout attire and opened the door. A few hours later we were finishing comp study and receive another phone call from the SAME Elders! "Hey sisters....we've done it again! So sorry...." Hustled down...opened door....ran back up and went out to work! We came back to the apartment for dinner later that evening and saw that the management had taped signs on every door leading outside that said "No key, no entry! Be aware of those you are letting into the building!" I died laughing!!!! What a coincidence, hey? Apparently the same Elders called the other sets of sisters the next day...when they locked themselves out again. XD Too funny!!!

Oh goodness! Life is a rollercoaster, my friends! I am so grateful for all that Heavenly Father sends our way! All of the Goliaths are scary, though some may seem identical to one that you've seen before! I know, that no matter what, each time we sling our stones with faith, our arms get stronger, our aim is more sure, and we grow and progress along the journey that Heavenly Father has lovingly sent us here to earth to experience! I love you all! have a wonderful week!

Sister Van Valkenburg

We had a lesson with a sweet Chinese lady in the ward. She left the room for a bit and I snuck a pic....had to show y'all the traditional Chinese visit. Slippers for your feet, fruit, and nice china containing HOT water! So sweet! (Also is was quite hot outside so we were all sweating buckets as we drank the water! XD)

Driving home from the doc this afternoon...saw this exit....good thing I wasn't the driver! ;) Hahaha so close to the Border!!!
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Saw this cutie today!!! :D Sister Christensen came out with me and is now a Sister Training Leader opening up Langley!! I'm so proud of her and she is SO AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! LOVE HER!!!
Also a quick pic of the sticky note our apartment manager left us on his sticky note board he has by the elevator. This was during the time the elevator was broken. XD He leaves little notes a couple days a week to keep us giggling. XD Love him!