Sister Renee Fokken

My photo
Why hello! Welcome to my missionary blog! I'm glad you found it! As most of you well know, I will soon be serving in the Alpine German-Speaking Mission where I will take upon me the name of Jesus Christ and serve him for a period of 18 months, striving to bring souls closer to Christ. I report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on June 15, 2011 and will return home in December of 2012. While I am away, my lovely sister has taken the task to post on here my weekly e-mails home to the family! Feel free to read them or just glance at any pictures I'll send home! And always remember to be continually seeking for those who are looking for the truth and know not where to find it; our Father has sent me abroad to help gather his sheep in Germany/Austria/Switzerland and you can do so where ever you may live. :)

August 22, 2011

PICTURES!!!! And recent happenings!

Hello out there! I am so glad to be able to finally send you some pictures! I am currently living in Leoben, Austria! Basically I live in a valley in the Alps... no big deal... I promise to have more pictures sometime soon. Please enjoy these ones for now that give a slight glimpse of my mission thus far.

SANY1389: This is me and my first Mitterbeiterinen! aka companions. Sister Phillips is on the left and Sister Taysom is in the middle. I love these two so much!!!
SANY1401: Sister Phillips LOVES icecream! More than anyone I've ever met!
SANY1402: Sister Baxter (left) and Sister Hunt (right) these are the other two sisters that were in our room who also went to Alpine! They are awesome!!!
SANY1403: This was us staying up late on 4th of July to watch the fireworks from Stadium of Fire! It was a ton of fun and we got awesome icecream but the next day was Sunday and it was fast Sunday so needless to say, it was a little rough trying to stay awake...
P1010451: This is a view of the Alps from our balchony on the 5th floor! So glad there is an elevator :)
P1010453: This is my new companion, Sister Downs! She is great! We have already had very tender moments with one another as I am experiencing a whole new mission world!!!

Wow it is so nice to not have to rush through e-mails here. I can actually share some really neat stories I have been experiencing! Woohoo!!

So, we left the MTC at 5am on Monday, Aug 16th and arrived in München, Germany at 7:50am on Tuesday. So that means we were going to have to go all day long before we could sleep! When we got here, we were greeted by President and Sister Miles and their daughter, Rachel who will be leaving for her mission to Rome, Italy next week! Woot! :) The Assisstances to the President were also there. We loaded our stuff in the van and we were given a copy of Das Buch Mormon, several passalong cards in German and were told that we were going to board the train and be missionaries! Ha, well Sister Baxter and I had been talking to a woman on the plane (mostly Sister Baxter) about the church and we decided that we wanted to go and give her a Buch Mormon. So we did! She said she would read it :) Then we got on the train for the first time... talk about being scared out of one's mind! Elder Baird took the lead and showed us what to do and spoke to one woman and she actually committed to reading das Buch Mormon! Then he turned around and said to stay on that side of the train and to get off when we were supposed to. So we (S. Phillps, S. Taysom, and ich) started to scatter ever so slowly. Sister Taysom got shut down and I knew I was up. I had seen a fellow who was sort of eavesdropping and he seemed very curious so I chose to speak to him. I told him that I had been in Germany for about 45 min and began teaching! It was awesome! I was inspired to ask the right questions to get him thinking and make him even more curious about the church. I bore testimony that all the answers to those questions were in the Book of Mormon and committed him to reading it. Then he even let me get his address so that missionaries could come clarify what he reads and help him answer his questions. What a rush?!?!  It was awesome! The Lord knew I needed that. I had been praying for missionary opportunities on my journey to the mission and here it was. I know for a FACT that the Lord places His servants in the path of those who are prepared and it is up to us to find out who they are!

Moving on, my companion is great! Her name is Sister Downs, she is from Georgia! She goes home in November but is trying really hard NOT to get truncky and keep working hard. I hear it is really hard to stay focused the last few months. I'll worry about that when I get there ;) We almost missed our train the first day we met! Ha, President Miles had to drive us as fast as he could to the train station and we made our train but barely! I've never had to run so much to catch a mode of transportation as I have in the first week of my mission! We were always running it seems! But the area that I am serving in is called Bruck an der Mur (said like Book on der More) It is so cute! I live in a town called Leoben. Sister Downs says it is really small comparitively. The buildings here are like that of Louisiana in that they are so colorful! I'll try to capture more of that in pictures but my camera is currently broken so I'll use Sister Downs! :) The creeks here are crystal clear! I have never seen anything like it before! On Saturday we went to do service for Bruder Kubik. He is awesome! He sings Home on the Range in ENGLISH! It is so cute! He is an elderly man like most of the people in our ward. Our service for him was to pull weeds, aka Stinging Needle from his bushes that line the yard. Meine Gute... I had so many bumps on my arms that day and they still itch a little... but all is well! Oh yeah and afterwards, he gave us some juice. What kind one might ask? Well none other that UNsweetened Grapefruit juice... if you haven't had it, I would recommend using it as a prank because it tastes that nasty! I just drank it fast and tried NOT to think to much! After that he gave us chocolate which I was extremely grateful for. Chocolate here is amazing! (as most of you already know...) so that made it totally worth it!

Our area is huge! It takes about 2 hours to get across the whole span of it. Our ward has 30 active members. There are 2 primary children,1 young woman and 1 young man... All the rest are either elderly or don't have children. It's crazy how much missionary work they do though! They are golden! Sister Cseh is one of the most amazing of them all! She is 81 and LOVES to go on team ups! She is a powerhouse! Yesterday I had the priviledge of listening to 5 hours of straight German. I think I understood MAYBE 10%. It is a lot different here. They speak a dialect known as Steirisch (sty-rish). It can be compared to a southern drawl. So basically I feel like I'm back in my first week of chemistry class my first week of school in Louisiana, but they aren't speaking in english... I did have the priviledge to say a few prayers in the meetings and I spoke/introduced myself in sacrament. I got a lot of compliments on my German so it must not be too bad? :)

After church, we had the opportunity to go and teach a girl named Aline. She is from Romania, living with her cousin and his family, the Costans. Brother Costan is currently attending another church so they found Aline while contacting Brother Costan as a less active member. (Hopefully that makes sense) Aline does not speak German, and she speaks a little bit of English. Brother Costan speaks German and Romanian. It is very interesting to say the least. So anyways, we knocked on the door and Aline answered and seemed very pleased to see us! Brother Costan was sitting there and the fun began. We opened with prayer and attempted to answer his questions. He tends to not like you speaking for more than 5 seconds so he will cut you off and ask another question. It was rough at first and I didn't fully understand what was going on, but he suddenly turned to me and asked me what I thought. I paused and through the spirit bore strong testimony of agency and the will of man verses the will of God. That the only person that can tell us what to do is God and even then it is still our choice to obey. I testified that when we do, we can feel peace in our hearts depite the actions of others and the restlessness of the world around us. I translated what I said to Aline and she agreed. As Sister Downs bore testimony, the Spirit was so strong and you could sense the discomfort Brother Costan felt. The spirit is real. The gift of tongues is real. I know it!

Well I have to get going... until next week!

One more random thing before I go... people walk their cats here! They have a leash and actually walk their cats...crazy...

Schönen Woche!
Sister Fokken

NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I think it took two months before it really sunk in with me that you are on a mission. I guess the pictures of your balcony in Austria did it for me. You were only 10 minutes away before. You won't read this until you get home but we want you to know that we are so proud of you for serving the Lord in this capacity. We know that many will be touched by your testimony. Good luck! We look forward to reading your weekly e-mails.

    Love you,
    Adam, Stephanie and Tanner.