Sister Renee Fokken

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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. :)

September 26, 2011

"Did I hear someone ask for a MIRACLE?!"

For those who are wondering why that subject heading sounds so familiar, if I remember right it is a direct quote from one of my personal favorite charcters, Muschu on Mulan :)

Okay moving on... wow this week has been crazy! In a good way. It all started when we went to Vienna to go on exchanges with Sister Nelson and Sister Weed. (I went with Sister Nelson.) When we got there, we went to the Hirschmans for lunch and at first, it looked kind of "iffy" (if you know what I mean...) but it tasted rather amazing! There was also an investigator there named Queen who has such an incredible history! She is from Africa and super sweet. I will show a picture of her later. It was fun getting to know her and my spirits were instantly lifted! She got baptized on Saturday! It was awesome.

So then after lunch, we had an appointment with one of Queen's friends, her name is Dany. She speaks french originally but also speaks really good German. We started the lesson and just started to get to know her a little bit and she asked us if we had the book. We told her of course! We handed it to her and she asked if she had another one? We were a little puzzled at first but she said she wanted to give one to her mom too! She's not even a member and she is already handing out Books of Mormon! We were thrilled! We didn't have another one in French with us, but we got her mothers name and phone number and the Elders in Graz are going to give her one and tell her what it is all about!

Then, after that, we were talking to people that had come to the young adult center, where we were, who had just came out of English class. We talked to a few people for a few minutes and one of the ladies said she wanted to ask us some more questions. So we sat down with her, Lilly, and just talked about who we are, what we believe, and how if we can meet with her 3 times a week for 4 weeks, and keeps her commitments to read the Book of Mormon, Come to Church, and pray to know the truth, she will come to know for herself if it is true. She committed to doing so and we were thrilled!

The next day we had a special training because we are starting the new "12 Week Training Program" which is amazing! Each companionship got a portable DVD player to watch examples of how to present specific materials and how to be better teachers. For those who don't know, there are 8 fundamentals that we are to focus on to help us become better teachers. They are truly inspired! I have such a testimony of this training program already! The only down side of that is that I have to start my training over again. So I will be a "golden" for another 12 weeks. All is well, I am just happy to finally be a part of the new program!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to give my first talk in sacrament meeting. That alone was a miracle in itself! Sister Downs really helped me get my grammer together but I got a lot of compliments on it so I think I did well! The topic was the affects of using the priesthood righteously. It was a little rough to get started but thankfully I have been blessed with many worthy priesthood holders in my life in which I truly feel extremely blessed by their priesthood calling.

Okay so here is the best story of the week!! Yesterday, we had made an appointment with a woman named Eva, she is so wonderful! But when we got there, she was getting ready to go to the hospital where her grandson we being rushed to because he had hit his face on something and had to go to the emergency room. So we left her a card with our number and we will hopefully get a lesson in with her this week! She really wants to! So that was pretty funny... as we were walking back to our car, a woman called out to us and told us she had a question for us. We walked over to where she and three other women were sitting, two of them stood up and came and asked us who we were and what we were doing? Sister Downs and I were delighted to explain our purpose to them and they agreed to an appointment for this coming week. We took their information and gave them ours and went along to klingle another potential investigator. The potential wasn't there and Sister Downs said we needed to give those other two ladies a card as well. So we made our way back to the bench. One woman said that if the other women liked what they heard in their appointment then she would set an appointment with us later. The other woman really just sat their and didn't know what to think. We wished them a good evening and headed to the car. We were about half way there when we hear someone say, "Excuse me!" We again made our way back to the bench and the quiet woman wished to make an appointment with us. We were happy to ablige and walked away in shock as to what just happened. We had 3 women come to us... All eager to hear the "Good News" or what we like to call, "The Gospel".

I know the Lord blesses His missionaries around the world! He is very aware of all that we do. Thank you for all your prayers! Keep them coming! They are working! I hope you have a wonderful week!

Liebe,
Sister Fokken



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September 19, 2011

Little Miracle

Sorry I dont have much time this week but I just wanted to share a quick story about a tender experience we had this week.

Saturday the weather had a mind of it's own. It was cold in the early morning, hot by noon and then started raining around 3 and got pretty chilly... We had a lot of things planned for the day: service for a few hours, an appointment with a less active, another appointment with an investigator, and one more less active later that night. Well, when we went to go do the service, the family wasn't there and didn't answer the phone so we started hunting down some less actives. We found one who hasn't been to church in 6 years or so and said that the Elders used to come by all the time! His face fell sad when we told him we couldn't come in... We were heart broken but because we have a testimony of obedience, we just prayed for him because that was all we really could do... Then we headed to the other less active appointment. Boy that is always an adventure... but we had Sister Bernier there who is the Relief Society president to help us out and share her testimony which was great! On our way to the other investigator, his name is Herr Wolfberger (he has come a long ways! He has quit smoking but can't get baptized until he comes to church which is the only thing we really are struggling with him) it started pouring down rain. Since Herr Wolfsberger is a single man, we would either need another female over 18 or to go outside. Neither option was looking to good. Then a miracle happened.

As we pulled up to Herr Wolfsberger's apartment, we called the member that lived across the street to see if she would come but she didn't answer her phone. It was my turn to pray for the appointment and so thus I began. I prayed for either the member to call us or that the rain would stop. As we got out the car, the sun escaped from behind the clouds and the rain ceased entirely. I know for a fact that the Lord answers prayers of the faithful. I know that we were meant to have that appointment with Herr Wolfsberger. I testify that the Lord lives and loves each of His children. He knows YOU individually just as well as he knows me! If we turn to him with full purpose of heart, he will great us the desires of His heart. For our desires will be His desires.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Until next time.
Sister Fokken



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September 12, 2011

New Investigators!!!

Wow this week has been so great I can't even begin to explain! But I must say this has also been one of the most trying weeks thus far. How is that possible one might ask? Well for anyone who has served a mission you know exactly what I'm talking about. Everyone else, here is a classic missionary story...

So it was Saturday night around 20:00 (8pm) and everyone who has served in a german area knows that people go to bed EARLY here so to have nothing to do but tracting at 8pm is rather difficult at times. Everything Friday and Saturday had fallen out...So, we had just completed our backup plan for our backup plan and were quickley running out of ideas. We got in the car and prayed more earnestly than ever and decided to go by on a few people that we try everytime we are in that area. Of course, these two investigators weren't home but then I had the feeling to head over to the Hauptplatz (Main Square) and see what we could find. Sister Downs and I saw a couple people walking our way and she turns to me and says, "It's your turn. These people are gonna get baptized." I chuckled and said, " Heck yes they are!" So I approached them and used me best german I could muster... the woman, responded, "Could you do that in English?" It was music to my ears! We were able to explain to them about a book, called The Book of Mormon, and asked if we could come give it to them as a gift. One of them spoke French and the other reads in Arabic and they were amazed when we told them it would be no problem to get it in those languages. We set an appointment for a few days later and celebrated by getting ice cream. It was a beautiful night. We knew then without a doubt the Lord had heard our prayers and was very aware of our efforts. We went back at the appointed time and no one was home... Emilie, the woman, had given us her number so we called and she said she was at work and lost track of time but she would be right down. We didn't have time to really talk about the book but she took it and commited to read the Intro. We came back and taught them yesterday for about 20 min, because they had yet another meeting to go to. The lesson went rather well and we set another appointment for next Sunday! Younes, the man, unfortunately is leaving Leoben in two weeks but FORTUNATELY we have missionaries around the world who would LOVE to continue teaching him.

This gospel is true! And Iove it.

As for my crazy/funny story of the week I have been collecting a few and waiting for a day when I had enough time to share them :)

1) I love that wearing Leaderhosen is perfectly acceptable to wear to church! LOVE THEM!!!
2) Did you know it is illegal to kill bees in Germany right now? Something about them going extinct; I guess someone forgot to tell them that all the bees are just on vacation in Austria...
3) I have seen, more than once, train cars moving steadily down the tracks with NO engine... I am still trying to figure that one out...

That's all for now, I really need to get back to work! I hope you always remember how much the Lord loves each and everyone of His children and may we do our best to treat each other as such! May the Lord bless you this week as you seek to do good in everything you do!

Tschüss bis nächste woche!
Sister Fokken



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September 5, 2011

What a Week!

Hello everyone! Well I don't have much time, as usual, to tell you everything about my week but we'll see how much I can cram in here!

This last week was crazy! I experienced my first companionship exchange! We took a train (as we usually do) to Wien aka Vienna! I was so intimidated when I got off the train though... In Bruck an der Mur, we have the population density similar to that of LaVista/Papillion area... Wien, it is like Las Vegas!! There are 2 million people in Vienna alone. And it's huge! The map for Vienna is an entire book! But I got to learn how to use it! We got to Vienna on Thursday morning and we exchanged and so my new companion was Sister Lind! She is awesome! Totally reminds me of Shantelle in so many ways. It was great! We even got to teach a lesson in English! I was super excited! We went to a family who is active but is considered less active because they don't stay for all three meetings because the wife doesn't understand English OR German... Anyways, their son, Ali (25 or so) had his girlfriend over and she was from Romania! We had four languages in that room alone... German, Persian, English and Romanian. The girl friend though isn't a member and she is totally ready for the gospel and was excited to pray about the Book of Mormon and to come to church! She gave us her address and phone number and it was just so great! Ahh, Love IT!! Also I ate a peach at that appointment... I can't remember the last time I had peaches??? Mom, can you? Once again, the Lord blessed my tastebuds ;)

Then Zone Conference was the next day and it was awesome! Just so motivational and helps to build up ones confidence to spread the word once again! Our mission is known as the "sleeping giant" in that there are so many people that are being prepared right now, they will soon all be ready to accept the gospel and missionary work in Europe will explode! I hope to be part of that bringing about thousands!

Then we came home and life just keeps getting better. Yesterday after church we went to go visit a girl named Aline who speaks english and Romanian and was here for the summer helping her cousin as a nanny basically. Well this cousin is actually a less-active man that we go visit every once in a while. When the sisters found her, they knew that is why they needed to visit the Costans. So yesterday we talked about Christ's earthly ministry and she was astounded that he suffered so much for us. And the best part was at the end she prayed from her heart instead of from her usual 'recited' prayer! It was so great!

Then we walked down the street to follow up on a man we met in the parking lot a few weeks ago and he and two of his other friends committed to an appointment for this week. The blessings kept flowing as we attempted to contact another less active family and they weren't home so we went door to door and found another less active that we have been looking for, another man who has a Book of Mormon but doesn't understand it, and another woman to wants to know more about the gospel! Blessings all around!

I know the Lord answers prayers and this IS His work. May the Lord bless you and may you SEE those blessings in your daily lives. I promise you they are there and if you will CHOOSE to see them and express gratitude FOR them, you will be so much happier.

Until next time,
Sister Fokken




Pictures:

This first one is me and Aline (Uh-leen-uh) and she is Romanian but was visiting her cousin who is less active and we found her when we went to go visit this less active family.

The second one is me over looking Bruck an der Mur, the sweetest little town ever! We hiked up to an old Fort on the top of the hill and can see the whole town from there!

The last one is actually in Vienna with the other sisters there. We had Zone Conference this last Friday and went on an "Austausch" (ow-s-t-ow-sh) or what is known as "exchanges" while we were there! I went with Sister Lind and she is amazing! Reminds me a lot of Shantelle actually! From left to right those sisters are: Sister Chappel, Sister Lind, Sister Nelson, Sister Weed and then Sister Fokken :)