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. :)

October 30, 2012

October 29

Well, this last week lots has happened!!! We set a baptismal date with Sandra from Liberia! She is Golden! Since our first visit, she has been so intrigued with the fact that we are in her life and that she is a daughter of God, that she CAN repent and that she should be baptized. She has asked questions about why we are here, what happens after this life, how she can be happy now, how do we repent, can we repent more than once, and how do I get baptized. It was truly a remarkable experience. The only thing is that she lives out in the middle of nowhere and no bus runs through there on Sundays. But she will come to church next week! :) Another really cool story is about Zlata. She is amazing! We met with her last Tuesday she asked us why she was baptized as a baby and we told her we didn't know why people did that, but it was okay that she was, because she didn't know better but that she would have to be baptized again. We asked her to pray about it and committed her to do the "Stop Smoking Program" on Friday and she said she would if she hadn't already quit before then. We went on Friday and she had already quit. She quit Wednesday morning. Gave away all of her cigarettes, and hid her ashtrays. Her brother came over and he kind of made fun of her and said she would last only a few days, but she told him she has quit for good! She then said how she was reading through the The Gospel of Jesus Christ brochure and she had a question about Enduring to the End. She asked us to read it and she then asked, "So the only way that I can be that happy is if I am baptized?" We said, "Yes" She fell silent and I know she felt the spirit because she said, "A part of me wants to get baptized, and a part of me thinks of my family." We talked a little more about her family and what they might think of her baptism. We think she is afraid that they will think that she is leaving a family tradition and abandoning her family in a way. She told us about a church she saw when she went on a walk with her brother, when she was still in Croatia. Her brother told her that these people were always so nice and happy and they were like a big family. She asked if it was OUR church? We didn't know, so we went to the church website and sure enough, it was one of our meeting houses. It was so cool to see that members are just as happy there as they are all around the world! And members' examples penetrate the hearts of MANY even if they just SEE them interact with one another. She is so close to getting baptized! So in summary: Be Careful what you do at all times, you never know who is watching or what conclusion they will come to because of the actions/words you do or say! I hope you all have a wonderful week!! Love ya! Sister Fokken

October 22

So this week has been pretty good. I honestly don't remember what happened? I just remember that we were busy all the time? Crazy how that works. I can't believe October is almost gone! It JUST STARTED!!! This last week I had a scary experience because President wasn't sure if he told the main office of my extension or not and if they had already bought the plane ticket. I was torn! It hit me today during personal study that someday, I won't live in Switzerland anymore! I finally came to my senses, to realize that I am still in Switzerland and I better enjoy it as much as I possibly can before I have to leave! Then today, in study, I thought about the possibility of having to go home still in November. I was really excited and then I thought more about, "what would I do?" I have been so good at living my mission in the middle, this thought of going home to a normal life caught me completely off guard! This thought of my mission ending someday is a bittersweet thought but luckily, I can put it off for a few more weeks. I am not going to lie though, it'll be so nice to get hugs everyday again! I miss our family's hugs! I've had to teach everyone here how to give a proper hug! :) Love, Sister Fokken

October 15

Man, I am so tired this week! We have been so busy I can't even TELL YOU! I will definitely be one of those who sleeps for the first week I am home from my mission. I already feel dead.... yay for being a full-time missionary! This morning I was reading in Alma 26 and it is Ammon exclaiming the joy he feels in the work of the Lord. There is a verse in there that talks about how they went forth proclaiming the word of the Lord which was in them. I thought about that and just smiled. I always knew the scriptures applied to my life but on my mission I feel that the scriptures have really became a PART of me. It was a really cool realization today. Okay, now for the good stuff! The Miracles from this week! Well, this week was just really crazy! I set a new record for how many lessons in one day that I've had! We had 4 lessons on Thursday! All with men! So they all had to be joint teaches! Luckily we have a willing Senior Couple who are able to help us out a lot! The lessons each got progressively better! And the last one we committed him to baptism!!!! Heck yeah! It was such a good day! That night, I went to pray and Sister Hatch was in the Bathroom, so I took the opportunity to pray out loud. I just spoke to Heavenly Father as if he were sitting right next to me :) It was so cool! I felt him talk back in my heart and in my mind! I felt I should ask him where we should go to contact the next day. He told me. "Buchthalen" I said, "Okay. Should we just go dooring or walking on the street?" He said, "Walk on the street." I said, "Okay, mach mal so!" And then I asked him to please allow Sister Hatch to receive that same inspiration so that we can be in unison with our decision. He said he would gladly do so. I thanked him for the inspiration and said good night. The following day, we had planned to have weekly planning and then go to this place called Rafz to go by on a former investigator. Around 4 or so, I asked Sister Hatch if we could just call this person in Rafz and go contacting somewhere else? She said, "Do you feel like we should go somewhere else?" I sheepishly said, "Yes, we need to go to Buchthalen." She said, "I was thinking the same thing earlier today and I didn't know why?" Ha, I knew why, but we then finished planning and headed for Buchthalen. While waiting for our bus, we met a woman named Lurdas, who loves to talk about God and Jesus Christ and agreed to meet with us this coming week. We were feeling pretty good about it too! We then took the bus to Buchthalen, got off and were trying to decided which way to go. We decided downhill would be a lot better than climbing another mountain. We started walking and Sister Hatch asked if we were dooring or just walking. I then began to relate my experience from the night before and before I could finish, I found myself speaking to this woman. We told her who we were and she said she was Reformiert (I don't know what that is in English) and we asked her about how her faith has helped her? Before too long, she was in tears. This whole last week, I had been preparing myself to talk to someone who was crying, and I thought a lot about what I would say to them.) I looked at the woman and asked her sympathetically why she was crying. She told us about her daughter who desired to cut off all contact. This woman was in serious contemplation if the Lord even loved her? I looked her in the eyes and testified that the Lord indeed loved her and he had sent us to her. I related again my experience from the night before to her and she asked if we could come to her home and talk a little more. We said of Course we could and we walked with her to her home. She told us more about the situation with her daughter and how it is so hard for her to know what is true and doesn't understand why the Lord would have her suffer so much. As we talked more about the gospel, she finally opened her heart and she felt something. Something powerful. We testified how our faith in Jesus Christ has been the only thing that has really helped us through these hard times. She gladly accepted the Book of Mormon (when she found out it was free) and invited us back for this coming week. The Church is true. Miracles happen every day! Was this a coincidence... NOT A CHANCE!!. There are no Coincidences in the Lord's work. EVERYTHING happens for a reason. I wish you all a wonderful week! One filled with miracles and thanksgiving! I love you!! Love, Sister Fokken

October 8

19 YEAR OLD SISTERS IS THE BEST THING THAT COULD EVER HAPPEN!!!! That announcement brought so much joy to my heart I can't even tell you! Man, I was talking to Sister Hatch and we both had relatively strong desires to serve missions at the age of 19 but still had two years to go before we could do so. Well after two years, the desire had left us. But the responsibility never did. And because we love our Savoir we decided to serve. We both came out when we were 22. There will be so many more sisters serving missions now, I can guarantee it! Well, this week we helped with a new church building's open house in a place called Singen. It was really fun to be with missionaries all day but it was even more fun to get to know people and just to see how many people were curious as to what goes on in that beautiful building. It was so fun! Then conference this weekend was exactly what I needed. I got very specific answers to my very specific questions. The Lord truly does guide those who speak and allows them to say things very specific, even the very words/phrases, that we so desperately need to hear. I am staying again in Schaffhausen, and still with Sister Hatch! :D YEssss LOVE IT!!! I was able to go to the temple recently. It was really cool. I was the very last one to go through the veil and so everything was quiet and it was just me and the "Lord." Thus, it was quite a touching experience. :) Quick story: This last week I have felt a few times the pressure of the mission and just how hard it CAN be. I found myself asking a few times, "Am I sure I want to extend?" I thought back as to why I even CAME on my mission? I remembered I came because He asked me to come. I came because my love of the Savior and His gospel is greater than my own personal desires and interests. It's the same reason I stayed. Even when times were tough. I know the Lord has called me to this mission and I am here for a reason! I loved Elder Holland's talk because I can relate so much to Peter. I felt like I have been asked that question a lot on my mission, "Sister Fokken, lovest thou me?" I am so grateful that I have always been able to respond with yes! It may have been a little shaky the first few times He asked. But now I can say, with a firm assurance that YES, I DO love my Savior. That's why I came, that's why I stayed, that's why I extended. I promised to go wherever He wants me to go, say whatever He wants me to say, and be all that He wants and needs me to be. The gospel is real. I still stand by my mission saying, Learn of Him, Live like Him, and you will Become like Him. I know that it is true! The apostles of the Lord have given testimony to that very principle. As we learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ and apply it to our DAILY lives, we will have no regrets and we will be filled with his joy and peace. I love you all and wish you a wonderful week! Thanks for sharing your insights on Conference! I would love to hear how you have planned to apply some of the things you learn! Have a great week! Love, Sister Fokken

October 1

The other day, I was laying on my bed looking out my window just thinking about how crazy life as a missionary is and how blessed I feel to have this privilege to serve a full-time mission. Then, I suddenly realized that I speak GERMAN!!! I never thought I would ever be able to say that I was fluent in another language but, here I am! Oh man, I still can't believe it sometimes. I really do love this life as a missionary. I've never been so tired yet so satisfied in my whole life. There is NOTHING but the work of the Lord that could produce such a sensation. This gospel is true. If this church were of the devil, he would have abandoned me on this mission a long time ago. But I am here. Stronger than ever. And have asked to labor longer in this wonderful field. I don't get it. And I don't have to. I just have to recognize where my strength comes from. Who is by my side. And press forward with a perfect brightness of hope, feasting upon the words of Christ. There have been so many little miracles that have happened this week. I wish I could tell you them all! But, it would take 5 hours to speak it let alone TYPE it. But the one person that I wanna talk about is Zlata. She has made so much progress this week and is living proof of so many principles of the gospel. 1) Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation to all learning in the gospel. 2) The Book of Mormon will change the lives of those who read it and apply the doctrines they learn there in. 3) The Priesthood is real and this church is the ONLY church on earth that has the right to exercise that priesthood power. So #1: Earlier this week, we were talking to Zlata about baptism. She said that she was born Catholic and would die Catholic. She also said she knew that the Catholic church was wrong but she didn't want to change. I was about to drop her right there. She could feel it too. She asked us if we were going to stop coming if she wasn't going to get baptized or if she wasn't allowed to get a blessing if she wasn't a member? The spirit gently placed a few questions to ask her before we dropped her though. We asked her why she thought we came each week? (I can't remember what she said exactly, but I think she just said, I don't know?) Then we asked her how she feels when we come? (She said, "I always feel peace.") Then we asked her if she feels like her faith has grown since we have been meeting with her? (She said yes.) I told her we were not going to give up on her and she asked why? We read Alma 32:27. She said that was beautiful and we explained that even with her little faith that she had, she could accomplish great things. And as long as her faith is growing, we would continue to meet with her and help her along the way. #2: Just before leaving, we committed her to read just 5 minutes in the Book of Mormon each day. And we gave her a scripture marking pencil and told her that she didn't have to remember EVERYTHING she read but to mark scriptures that she liked or she had questions about. We promised her that if she would just show Heavenly Father that she was TRYING, he would bless her and she would be able to remember things more clearly. She agreed to read and we set another appointment for Friday. Friday came. The blessing we had scheduled for her had fallen through, and we didn't really know what we were supposed to teach her. We prayed (like always) just before going into the lesson. We went in and asked her if she had read. She said she only had a little bit of time to read. We said, that's okay, what did you mark and we can talk about it? Well she shared about 5 scriptures with us and the last one she shared was all the way in 1 Nephi 19! Ha, we were amazed! She had never read any other reading assignments we gave her before. It was crazy. When we talked about the scriptures she read, she read one and said, "Here, I found myself in the scriptures!" She was already applying the scriptures to herself! We were astounded. After talking about a few of the scriptures, we went back and re-read one about Christ and repentance/judgement. We then talked about repentance which led to a discussion about the ten commandments which the Spirit totally testified straight to her heart and she understood and wanted to repent and live the ten commandments. Coincidence? Not a chance. The power of the Book of Mormon is real. #3 After the lesson on Friday, we set another appointment for Sunday. We finally gathered two men with the Melchizedek Priesthood to come with us and give Zlata a blessing. We were really late, and it was kind of crazy to have 5 people come into her TINY apartment instead of just two. But we did it. She had explained to the two brethren that she had had 3 blessings from the Catholic priests already. As the brethren were explaining more about the way we do the blessing, and how it is the words of the Lord not these brethren and then explained that it is only by the wish of the recipient that a blessing can be given, she just kept saying, Yes, I want one! Please! The blessing was amazing. Afterwards, she said she felt a really warm feeling. She was very grateful for them coming and doing that for her. Ah, I wish words could expressed the feelings I have had in the last few days. This Friday, we have transfer calls... I am going to cry if I have to leave this place. I have really come to love this area! We have been so busy this last week we haven't really had time to have a proper dinner break! Then on Friday, we had a "District Finding Day" and found 19 more potentials! Needless to say that we are going to be fairly busy the next little bit! We are helping with a building open house this week, going to the temple, and still trying to meet with everyone we are needing to! Yippee!!! Please pray for us to have success this week contacting these 19 potentials and that they will accept the offer to learn about the gospel. And Please pray that Sister Hatch and I have the energy to be able to do that which we need to do! Oh and enjoy conference this weekend! Don't forget to bring a question! :D Love, Sister Fokken

September 24

It's official, I am coming home on January 4th! Woot! I cannot tell you how excited I am! Every time I think about November, I think, "Man, I don't have to go home then anymore!" I am so blessed to be able to serve these people I love so much for just a little longer! Thank you again for all your support and positive thinking! So I can't make this too too long, we really need to go to Zurich today to renew my visa, and try to get it extended until 4th Jan. If we can't, then I will just go to Germany or Austria for my last little bit. It's still crazy to me that my time is coming to a close where I can wear a tag in which my name is next to that of the Savior's. Once a missionary always a missionary. I have no fears about that. But you are also right in that the time is short that we are able to serve as full-time missionaries. Don't worry! I plan to live it up! Every last drop! Well, about our investigators...we have many! We have Peter, Brother Humm, Sister Zlata, Yoldas, Felix, Edith, Friede, Martin and Vera. These are the ones I can think of off the the top of my head. They are all so awesome! Peter and Brother Humm are progressing but they are swiss which means they will take a while before they will be truly converted. But that's okay. I have learned a lot more about the art of patience on my mission. More than you can possibly imagine! Sister Zlata has a disease that is "unknown" and she has been to many doctors and still no one knows what she has and how to fix it. But her faith is growing so much because of this trial. We asked her the other day if she believed that Christ could heal her. She said she was 99% sure he could! We told her that that would be enough! We need just a small amount of faith to accomplish great things! Please keep her in your prayers this Tuesday as she will be getting a priesthood blessing of healing. She realizes that she can be healed but it must be according to the will of the Father. But I have really high hopes for her because I think that it would lead her to a true and lasting conversion. If she was ever converted, she would bring her family along with her! Her whole family! :) As for our goal, we currently have.... 90 baptized and 47 others committed to baptism! We will have to really work hard to reach our goal but I believe that we can do it! I really could use your help this week especially. Sister Hatch and I are seeing really good success here but we have a hard time committing people to be baptized. This week in your prayers can you please pray for Sister Hatch and I to have the courage to invite our investigators to be baptized? If you could do that that would be so wonderful! I know that we can achieve our goal of 300, but it will take all the faith we can possibly muster to do it! Well, I just want you to know that I love this work! I love my Savior more than I could have ever imagined! He IS the way. The ONLY way to return to our father in Heaven. I wish you all the best this week! Love, Sister Fokken

September 17 - Extending my mission!

Thanks everyone for your excitement about me extending my mission! I am pretty excited myself! I heard it works out better for you anyway. :) I am really excited for one more Swiss Christmas! I really didn't appreciate how special Christmas really was last year. Elder Nelson was visiting the missionaries in our mission last week and he opened the floor for questions. One elder asked, "How can we know our potential? And once we know, how can we reach it?" He referenced 3 Nephi 12: 48 which says, "48 Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect." He said, "Elder, that is your potential, to be like God. Now how do your reach it? Well, you can't. Not in this life." He then read Matthew 5:48 which says, " 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. The difference? Christ was not perfected until he was resurrected. Therefore, we literally CANNOT be perfect in this life. Even if we never made any mistakes. We would still need the Atonement to be perfected. Without the Atonement, we could not be resurrected thus, we couldn't be perfected. It was very interesting. The Savior should be incorporated into every aspect of our lives. As you can see it was really good. Take care this week! Love Sister Fokken

September 10

Holy moly did I feel loved this week! Not only has the Lord blessed me here in Switzerland but he has SHOWERED my family with more blessings than they know what to do with! Does life get any better than that? I submit that it does NOT! I wish I had time to tell you all the miracles I've seen. I am looking forward to sitting with you and telling you stories face to face! Just remind me to tell you about Martin and Vera, and also about Felix, Edith, and Frieda. I will have stories for the rest of my life from my mission. Okay well I love you all very much! I wish you all a wonderful week! I will talk to you next week! Love, Sister Fokken

August 27

Well hello there! So Felix, his wife Edith and his daughter Friede all sat and listened to us last week as we explained about the Book of Mormon. It was really wonderful to see the wife's mind change through out the lesson as she felt the spirit more and more. At the beginning she told us that she has heard of the Book of Mormon and that the people who read it and follow it's teachings become crazy and worship the devil. (hehe) I just smiled and asked if we could use a scripture. 2 Nephi 25:26 to be exact. When I asked if she would read it, she refused. She was literally scared of the Book. I said that was fine, I would read it. I read it and explained that the purpose of the Book of Mormon was to help lead others CLOSER to Christ, not further from him. After that, we asked Felix to read but I guess he had a welding accident and so he can't see too well. She, Edith, volunteered to read and we asked her to read a few more chapters (Alma 40-42) and she gladly obliged, and wanted to make sure she was there the next time we came to visit. They are very curious about religion and I would love to see them come, as a family, into the Gospel and experience it for themselves! We will see what the Lord has in store for them right now. :) So many times this week Sister Hatch has looked at me and asked what I was thinking about and nearly every time I was thinking about an investigator, how I can be a better missionary, or a member we should go visit or serve. I really don't know what I will think about when I go home... It is so much easier to focus on others while serving a mission because honestly that is the ONLY way one will survive in this jungle. We need every blessing we can get from the Lord and they will only come if we are doing our best to serve him and working for Him and loving His children. This life is so hard. But so good at the same time. I will certainly be pushing all unmarried women around the age of 21 to serve a mission. It truly is the best life preparation anyone could ever imagine. I am so grateful I am serving a mission. I like what Dad told me in his last e-mail that he has been involved in more baptisms after his mission than he ever was ON his mission. That's what I want to be like. There is no end to this mission. Not until the Great Jehovah shall come and say, "The work is done." Then we can stop finding. But we will always, ALWAYS be teaching someone somewhere, and learning from everyone around us. It will be so great! Love, Sister Fokken

August 20

This week we have had so many miracles happen. Never have I, throughout my whole mission, been let into someone's home on the spot. And this transfer it has happened 3 times. (Two times in the last week alone.) Last Monday we were getting on a bus and I said hello to a man but proceeded forward and sat by Sis Hatch. Then I got that feeling. That same feeling you get when you are sitting in fast and testimony meeting and you KNOW you are supposed to share your testimony but you are terrified for some reason or another. So I got up and asked the man if I could sit with him. He said, "Of course!" We got to talking and he is from Nigeria, has been here for 14 years, has two jobs, a beautiful wife and 6 children. He invited us to come over right then and meet his family. We did so and it was crazy. Little kids were running around, the tv was on, and then suddenly a friend came over and started to talk to us. She had heard before that we weren't Christian. She had heard of the Book of Mormon but had never read it. We invited her to read a little of the introduction. Her countenance changed almost instantly. She realized we weren't there to tell her that everything she learned was wrong. But that we were there to help people come unto Christ. It was pretty interesting. We had to leave not too long after we got there because we had another appointment. Before we left, the man I met on the bus, Felix, asked if we would pray before we leave. The spirit filled the room and it was a neat experience. After we got up, he asked us to come back soon! We told him we would! He was thrilled. We saw him a few days later and made an appointment but unfortunately it fell through. But we will keep trying. We also found a woman on Saturday afternoon. Elder and Sister Betts took us out to lunch and we decided that it would be a good idea to contact in this area for a few hours before our next appointment. We didn't have a map with us but we found a city map and knew that we needed to go a certain area on the map. We walked there but Sister Hatch had to use the restroom. As weird as it sounds, I have learned on my mission that bathroom breaks are rather inspired! I have found great success when my companion or I had to use the restroom and we either found someone on the way to or from the bathroom. Crazy as that is. Well, after the restroom, we went back to this one area. We felt embarrassed a little because we walked by the same people three times in the last 15 mins... I am sure they thought we were just some silly American girls that were lost. Anyways, we got to this one street and Sister Hatch said that that wasn't the right way. I followed her counsel and headed down the other street. We knocked a few doors but we saw another street and we both knew that is where we were supposed to go. We decided to walk to the end of Rosenweg, and work our way back toward the town center. We went to the very last building rang the top klingle and they buzzed us in. We went to the very top, saw a woman, said, "Hello! How are you today?" she answered, "Yeah, I'm okay, please come in!" We thought, okay, well that's interesting. That NEVER happens. (Well never say never!) We taught a powerful first lesson with her and she felt so honored to receive a copy of the Book of Mormon. She promised to read the introduction before the next time we come. She said we could come by again next Saturday to talk more about what we believe. Her name is Frau Flink. And she is amazing. I could tell you more miracles that happened but it would take a really long time to do so... Schaffhausen is beginning to bloom! Soon we really won't have any room for people in the chapel! We are already packed in there like sardines with only 3 investigators there. The work is going forth! I am having the time of my life, even though it is still hard sometimes, I have never felt as much joy doing something that is so hard in my entire life! I have really learned what it means to trust in the Lord on my mission. Especially in the last few weeks. I feel his hand guiding me in every aspect of my life. I have no idea what will happen after my mission. But I am not afraid. I know the Lord will provide. I have learned to live each day as a new one. I am living my life "in the middle." This transfer is coming to an end. We get transfer calls on Friday. I really want to stay here... And I am pretty sure I will die here. I wouldn't want to go to a new area for my last transfer. Next transfer is going to fly by because Elder Nelson is coming and then we have Sister's Conference for three days. It will be so great! I wish you all the best! Have a great week! Till next week! Love, Sister Fokken

August 13

This week, we had Zone Conference which is always a great treat. I cannot tell you how much I love my mission President. We also are having another "Sister's Conference" in September and Elder Nelson is coming to visit his daughter. Thus, we will also be seeing Elder Nelson next month. Get this week of Sept 10.... Monday- Pday, Tues- Normal day, Wed- Elder Nelson is coming, Thurs- Head to Munich for sister's Conference, Fri- Sister's Conf, Sat- Come back to Schaffhausen, Sun- Church. We are hoping to commit an investigator to baptism who just returned home from her vacation in Croatia. The only thing that could make that week any better would be for her to get baptized on that Saturday we come back. Oh, boy, have a told you lately how much I love my mission. I am realizing now just how many of the apostles served their missions here in Europe or have lived here.... There are a few and I really connect with them. They know what it is like here and how the gospel is "received." :) There is much work to be done here and not enough missionaries to do it. We need more missionaries.

July 9, 2012

SORRY!!!!

I am really sorry it has been so long since I have written to everyone! I promise I have NOT forgotten you!

This week has been pretty.... interesting... but I wont bore you with the details. I am still living the good life with two of the best companions I could ever ask for. I am not ready to send Sister Nelson home and it is quietly approaching faster than it ever should... Did you know that I only have three transfers left!!???? That is so NOT okay. Three transfers ago I was in Richterswil in March... That was just yesterday.. I Promise. It comes up a lot since sister Nelson is leaving in a week and a half. Oh man... CRAZY!!!

We have some great news though! Jafari (investigator) came to church yesterday! He only got three hours of sleep but he woke up anyways to come to church and he looked really good too! He wore a suit! An Italian one and boy it was fancy! Even the members commented on how good it looked ;) We had a total of 3 investigators in Sacrament meeting! It was awesome. They are all such wonderful children of God. Please please please, if you see someone you dont know, GO TALK TO THEM AND FIND OUT WHO THEY ARE! Just go say hello and welcome! If they are members visiting great! If they just walked into the church, even better! If they are an investigator, you will make an impression on them that they will never forget!

This week I have learned a few things. It is important to work hard. It is important to be nice to your companions. I learned so much about being sensitive to your companion and learning how to hold your tongue and recognizing that each companion is different. I think it will be good to be with just one companion again so I dont have to CHOOSE who I am going to talk to... Dividing my attention has not been the most pleasant thing this transfer but I learned somewhat how to do it better. I learned to not take people's reactions to what I say because most of the time, it wasnt anything to do with what I said, just it was the last drop that caused the bucket to tip. Ya know what I mean? Iẗ́s been really cool to see one principle change my life forever.

In recent months I have spoken with a man named Elder Newsom who has changed my life forever! He taught me about the principle of agency and how to really truly apply it in my life. My mind exploded as the Lord enlightened my perspective and allowed me to see what really mattered in my life. I love this principle. If you are ever struggling with something, I would recommend studing this topic. It applies to almost everyone in every situation. And I cannot tell you how much I 've learned about it. But maybe someday, I can show you just how much it changed me. The truth really does set one free!

All in all, the Lord loves us and blesses us with the things we need.... ALWAYS. The Lord knows who we are. The desires of our hearts and what we need to get us to become all that he wants us to become. If something is hard, dont worry, keep going! He's been there too! He knows every care and sorrow you carry. Go to him and he will make your burdens light. I love you and wish you all the best in the upcoming week!

Mit alle meine Liebe,
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.


April 17, 2012

April 16

This week has been really long because we didn't see too much success. Paulo came to an 8 year old's baptism but it was after our little 8 year old was baptized. He was there to witness the confirmation though. But the Taufgottesdienst war auf Schweize Deutsch... But luckily there was a man that could translate the talk on the Holy Ghost for him but still the confirmation he couldn't understand. But neither could I but the Spirit was there and Paulo had questions after. It was a great experience for him and the ward really likes him and talks to him a lot. He said that he thinks they talk to him just because he's like the "new toy" but I tried to reassure him that these people are just that way? And that they were happy and excited that he was there. He wasn't buying it though. He had another appointment to go to after the baptism so we said goodbye and he committed to come to church the next day. Sunday came, we called Paulo, no answer. Church started, no Paulo. We still have yet to hear from him. These are the times that I really do not like Satan... but Paulo just has to make a choice. We will be meeting with him again sometime this week I know. So hopefully everything is still okay.

Well I better get going. We are playing soccer as a whole ZONE today. It will be great. I am excited. I love soccer so much, and I mean we are in the LAND of soccer so its even better. :D

I hope you have a wonderful week.

Sister Fokken

April 2, 2012

What a Week

Well Hello there,

I have had a lot of things happen this last week. We had three joint teaches actually. It was pretty good. We taught P* again and he was really excited to come to conference but then at the last minute he called and said that something came up... we also had a really good lesson with R* and S*, they were taking notes as we explained the Plan of Salvation. They promised to pray about and read the Book of Mormon and are eager to come to church. Brother K, our joint teach offered to pick them up and give them a ride to church next Sunday. If she doesnt work, I have no doubt that they will come. They are honest seekers of truth, and believe that the Plan of Salvation is the truth. It is so amazing how just talking to someone about how cute their child is leads to them coming unto Christ. What a blessing it is to be able to communicate with these wonderful people and just to help them understand where they came from, why they are here and where they will go after this life. It is truly a miracle to have the knowledge we have. The thrid joint teach was with A**. He basically told us that God is an awful person and is evil. We taught about the Plan of Salvation but he said that he is satisfied with going to the Terrestrial Kingdom. He just is not ready to change quite yet...

This last week, has been rather hard for me. It hit me really hard that Sister Phillips was no longer my companion and that was really hard to overcome. I get really attached to people really easily and Sister Phillips is just like my sister and so having to say good bye is really hard. Then we had an appointment with a member family who totally just shut us down when we invited them to find an opportunity to serve someone and share their testimony with them. That was really hard and I felt that they felt that I was judging them and everytime I opened my mouth I seemed to offend them with something I asked or invited them to do or just something I said. It was just a weird appointment. I wasnt myself all week. I dont like when I get into these moods and so I prayed hard to know what I needed to do to get over it. I studied hard but the answer came in conference. During Elder Holland's talk when he said to listen to what the spirit was telling me in that exact moment. When he said that, The Lord testified to me that He lives. That he loves me and is very pleased with what I am doing here. He wants me to be happy and to grow. And he is NEVER far from me. Peace fell upon me and my love for my Savior and Father in Heaven grew stronger. Joy filled my heart and I could breath again and relax and know that even though not everyone would accept the invitations we would give, the point is that we gave them. That is all the Lord asks of me. To invite. They are the ones that use their agency to accept the invitation to change and grow and expand their limits. Conference was the best medication for the last weeks worries. President Uchtdorf was right when he said that the Word of God is the most powerful thing in the universe. I love just how inspired they are.

The Lord lives. He loves EACH of His children. May we continue to find those that he desires to put in our path that we may accompany them along this journey, called life, which is a time to prepare to meet God. Keep on Keeping on.

Bis nächste mal
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.


March 26, 2012

Week of Miracles

Oh meine sehr gute I dont even know where to start. This week has been quite the rollercoaster. You would all be so proud of me. I havent cried once since Sister Phillips left. It was hard to let her go but I am more worried about her in her new area and speaking german than I am that I actually miss her. I know that she needs to be in St Gallen and I am most definately still needed here in Richterswil. We have had some really amazing experiences this last week. I honestly am continuously baffled at how much the Lord consecrates the efforts of his full time missionaries. So lets start with Paul. Paul is the husband to Mary (our investigator who only speaks Portuguese and we teach over google translate but loves the church and loves the truth but she is not completely convinced that the priesthood was restored through Joseph Smith). This last week we have gone by their house to see if we could meet with Mary before she goes to Brazil on Wednesday (28 April). She was never there when we went by but Paul was always there. Paul was the original investigator but he hasnt really showed interest in religion because he believes more about science. But each time we went by we went in to talk to him as we wrote a note to Mary. Honestly that was just an excuse to go talk to him. We would go in and I would pretty much bear the strongest testimony I could muster and then we would talk about his life and I would bear testimony again and then sometimes we would pray with him. We asked him if we could set an actual appointment and have a lesson with him he agreed to it and the lesson was awesome. We watched Finding Faith in Christ and he had a lot of questions. After the movie he said that the miracles he performed could be performed through the science we have today but with the technology that they had back then it was impossible to perfrom such things but he believes that Jesus Christ DID perform the miracles and that he performed the Atonement. The only thing that really bothered him is that the laws that Christ made were made 2,000 years ago and the world has changed a lot since then. Thanks to handy dandy conference weekend this next weekend and we spoke to him about a modern day prophet. He was astounded that we have a modern day prophet and his whole countanence changed. He is soooo excited to watch conference and hear from our loving prophet. He wanted us to write down his name and he wanted to research lds.org to find out as much as he could about the prophet before next weekend. It was amazing the change in him. He was asking so many questions about prophets and is really enthusiastic about learning more about the gospel. It's so cool.

Miracle number two: After the appointment with R* and his wife S* was also there. She was sleeping when we got there but came out and joined the convesation. We taught about the restoration and they are really seeking to find the truth and asked a lot of really good questions. Sister Uhlig and I felt like we were intruding because throughout the whole time they were talking about how they are really busy and dont have time to meet with us until mid April. We finished the lesson and S* said the prayer (in Persian) at the end. We said our goodbyes and told them to call if they needed help with anything (by the way they are getting ready to move to another apartment in the same town...) and they said that they would. Well, we left without scheduling another appointment and set out to find another potential along the way home. About 15 min later I hear the phone buzzing in my backpack. It was S*, she asked if we could come back next Saturday at 8pm. We said absolutely. After I got off the phone I realized that we had actuall missed her first call. She called us twice. THAT NEVER HAPPENS TO MISSIONARIES. When people say they will call or they dont have time you just take it kind of as "Im not really that interested." I was in shock for the rest of the night after that experience.

This miracle day continued as we set out to find a man named Pjeter that we met on a bus and pointed in the general direction of where he lived once and said that we could bring him a book of Mormon in Albanish (I dont know what that is in English?). We looked at several buildings and because Sister Uhlig doesnt have an Ausweis (something that says that we can legally proselyte) we couldnt go door to door. So we looked at all the mailboxes. As goes several missionary stories, it was the last mailbox that we looked at that was his. We knocked on the door and his son D* answered. He said that he himself was Catholic and didnt want to change. We said thats fine but can you still give this card to your dad and tell him we will be back next week to give him a book of mormon? He politely agreed and we had a little small talk and then headed to the bus stop. We stood there basking in the blessings of the Lord when suddenly, D* was driving by and saw us waiting for the bus, asked us if we needed a ride, and we said sure. (Remember we have three sisters still... its all legal.) So we got in the car and found out more about him and his family. He has lived here since he was 14 years old from Kosovo just working and he has a wife and three children (15, 12, and 9) He was super sweet and I am sure that we will see him again.

The last major miracle that I would like to share with you this week has to do with a man named A*. He is the husband of a semi-less active in our ward. They have been married for almost a year and she comes from a very active family in the Phillipeens. She is wonderful and really is trying to be happy. We have dinner with them once a week and share a spiritual thought. The first time we were there she begged him to stay for the spiritual thought and he was just uptight and awkward about it. The second time he stayed willingly and actually participated. This last week, we talked about the fireside he attended put on by our ward about Israel and ended up teaching the whole restoration focusing on the Book of Mormon and it was just awesome. We created a spritual environment and then helped him recogize the Holy Ghost and what the role of the Holy Ghost is (to testify of truth) He committed to read Alma 34 and was excited to discover our purpose in life. He is making a lot of progress though. It is slow, but the fact that he was open and talking about religion in general was a huge step for him.

I want to thank you for all of your prayers in my behalf. They are working. The work is going forth at a massive speed and it is only going to get faster. Thank you for all of your examples. I love you all and wish you a wonderful week.

Love Always,
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.


March 19, 2012

So this week, we got a dreaded transfer call.... Sister Phillips is
leaving me to go to an Area called St. Gallen. I am really sad about
it but I know that she needs to leave so that she can experience a new
area and grow personally. She has been in this area since we got to
the field. She loves this ward and now I love this ward. I would
honestly be totally fine if I served here the rest of my mission. But
I am not sure that will happen. So this last week has been really
hard. It is hard to live with a brand new missionary who is German.
Germans are just different. And I am not used to someone complaining
so much. I know I was the same my first transfer... Poor sister
Downs... But I realize now just how nice it has been to be with Sister
Phillips who never complains about anything and just is always there
for me and really open and my very best friend. You know how I am when
I have to say goodbye to a friend. I am still not good at it. I know
that through the Lord, I can find the comfort and strength that I need
to make it through.

My new companion is Sister McBride. I also was in the MTC with her and
have gone on a few exchanges with her and she is the one that taught
me a few songs on the Guitar. We kind of knew that she would be coming
here. There are so many people here that need her. It will be really
good to have her here. This next transfer is only 5 weeks long, so it
will go by really fast for sure. Sister Uhlig leaves in three weeks so
that will be interesting. It has been really nice to have her here
because has allowed us to teach men.

I am in an extremely humble state in my mission. The Lord is shaping me and
it is rather painful, but I know that the result is worth it. Mother,
I am a different daughter than who you sent away to this service. I
have learned a lot. And I pray that I will only progress from here.

I am so excited for you to go to General Conference. That will be such
a neat experience. To be in the same building as the Prophet is just
amazing. He may look the size of a pea (depending on where you are
sitting) but his spirit and the spirit of his counselors and apostles
fills every square inch of the building. I love conference. I am so
excited to hear from our beloved leaders again. They love us so much.
It will be a grand experience for sure.
:)

This last week has been incredible. We had a fireside about Israel
since half our ward went there for 9 days about two weeks ago. We
brought our investigator Maria, who only speaks Portuguese so we had to
use Google translate. And I can't type in German very fast so I would
have to listen in German, then type in English so it would translate in
Portuguese. :) I am so grateful for modern technology. She loved it,
and we were supposed to meet with her last Saturday to talk about it
but her boss called and she had to work.... I HATE SATAN. He ruins
everything. But we will keep pressing forward as usual and help
prepare her to accept the gospel. She is going to Brazil on the 28th
of March to do a service project for her church, and will be there for
a month, and we are hoping to send the missionaries there to talk to
her and teach her in her native tongue. I don't really care how she
accepts the gospel. I want her to be there right with me in the
Celestial Kingdom when that time comes.

We also taught a man named Reza from Iran and he is amazing. He has
one of the strongest testimonies of Jesus Christ I have ever seen. He
loves Jesus Christ and has gone through a LOT just to not be Muslim. I
can't imagine having to go through all that he has. He is one of my
heroes. We were teaching him about Jesus Christ and how he was baptized
and he said, "yeah before I thought it was enough to just have faith
in Jesus Christ but now I know I need to be baptized too." My heart
sank and I felt like Aaron and Ammon as they heard the kings say that
they would believe everything they would say and that they would do
anything to know God and come unto him. There is nothing that can
compare to the pure joy that I felt at that appointment.

Just before that appointment, we taught a member's friend in the
member's home. It was amazing. I have never felt the spirit so strong
in a lesson my entire mission. The doctrine we taught was pure. The
testimonies we bore were sincere and the Spirit testified of the
things we taught. The member bore testimony and shared personal
experiences. And Jasmin (the investigator) said she had a desire to
know if Jesus Christ truly is the Son of God. What an amazing
experience.

I love my mission and wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world.
I will defend my God and bear witness of His son for the rest of my time here.
Thank you for all of your love and support. I love you. Talk to you
soon.

Love,
Sister Fokken

p.s. The weather has been great here between 15-21 degrees (Celsius)
but today is rainy and only 6 degrees.... but all is well. There is a
need for an opposition in all things. :) Take care.

March 12, 2012

Liebe Familie,

This week has been incredible. I have learned so much about myself and my Savior this last week. I also learned that I want more than anything to go to Israel sometime in my life. Over half our ward went there and they came back this last week and every single one of them was different. Their countenances changed entirely. What a privilege it is to be a missionary here and to have the "super hero ability" to see the countenance of those around you. I am sure this talent belongs to those that aren't missionaries as well, but those who have served missions know exactly what I mean. It is heightened in the field because we are called to discern the thoughts and needs of those we teach.

I wish I could tell you all that I have experienced this last week, but the truth of the matter is there are no words that can fully grasp how I have changed. This week I hit my half way mark. What a crazy thought. But you know what? I'll be a missionary forever. Elder Bednar said that, "a release from a full-time mission is a call to a LIFE long mission."

Thank you for your e-mails. I love hearing about Tanner and all his crazy little things he does. I love that he is so happy. I cant wait to be his best friend. He'll probably be the only boy that is single that I LIKE to spend time with ;) I got a letter from my trainer who went home in November and she said she's been on one date and she is quite comfortable hiding under her rock. :) She is so great.

Well, I hope that you all have a wonderful week. We think about you a lot. And pray for you everyday as well. Keep your heads up. Remember when we Look up and Step up, we will Cheer up. I love you all and cant wait to hear from you next week.

Liebe,
Sister Fokken

March 5

Hello dearest family,

So this week has been great. We contacted a lot and we had an exchange
with two other sisters this week. On Tuesday night, Pres Miles called
and asked if it would be possible to have a "visa waiter" to join our
companionship. We said that in the contract we have, we arent allowed
to have a third person live here but that we would talk to the
landlord and see what he says. I was stoked out of my mind when he
called. We immediately started making preparation including praying
for the new sister and for our landlord's heart to be softened. The
next day, we went and spoke with Herr Brunner and he said that he
would talk with his wife about it, but he was almost positive that she
would say no. We were a little disheartened but we then said a prayer
to have the heart of Frau Brunner to be softened as well. We really
wanted the new sister to come. We then went about our day and met an
80 year old man who we made an appointment and then went to take
cookies to a 7 year old we have been teaching for this 8th birthday.
Well they weren't home so we left them in the mailbox and then headed
back home. On our way, we met a family from Iran and they were muslim
and have recently turned Christian. We asked them if we could come and
teach them a little more about Christ, and they were thrilled. We are
really hoping to meet with them this week. They are so cute. Its a
husband, wife, and a 16 month old. Awesome. After that, we got home
and made our famous Chicken Salad and were able to eat outside it was
so nice. While we were eating, Herr Brunner came and spoke with us and
said that they would allow the third sister to come but this was the
VERY last time. We said okay, and immediately called President to let
him know that we got the Okay. He said that he would call us that
night and let us know if she would be coming to us or going somewhere
else. We prayed hard for her to come to Richterswil.

We then headed to St Gallen to exchange Sister Phillips for Sister
McBride. We had just enough time to go home, eat, and plan and play
the guitar and head to bed. It was a great day to say the least. :) By
the way, dad, you should send me the lyrics to your "all night long"
song. I have become quite good at playing the guitar and am excited to
play it for you all when I come home. It is probably one of my
favorite past times now. Anyway, around 10:15, Pres Miles had called
and said that we would be getting a new sister and we needed to pick
her up the next day in Zürich at 18:48. I was so excited.

So the next day was really busy. We were contacting, going to
appointments, dropping off more cookies to less actives all up until
the time we could go pick up the new sister. We got to Zürich and got
to the platform where she would be coming in and then we suddenly
realized she probably wouldnt have a tag, we have no idea what she
looks like, I didnt know how to say her name....and this train is
really long..... well, luckily we have the spirit and since
missionaries have to carry their whole life with them, she wasnt too
hard to find. Her name is Sister Uhlig. I still dont know how to say
it correctly... its kind of like that Brian Regan skit..."it's
caroLINE Brian...Well it's not Brian it's BRIIIIOOOOOOONNNNNNNEEE --
7-- Q" But, its okay she is still nice to me. :)

She is from Frankfurt and is just awesome. She is 26 years old and
just super sweet. She has her mission call to St George Utah Temple
Visitor Center. She is really cool. Has a really cool story but I cant
tell you all of it because I just dont have the time. I was really
excited for Sr Phillips to come back and to meet her. I realized
during this exchange just how much I love Sister Phillips. She is
seriously one of the biggest blessings in my life and has really
helped me through a lot of hard things. I cant wait for you to meet
her. She loves you all, by the way. She has to hear me tell her all
about how awesome you are each week. :) But she thinks that you are
some of the most amazing people in the world. Anyway, it has been nice
to be in a dritt again. I really like it. Especially with Sister
Phillips. Now its REALL just like the MTC.

Well, I better get going. I just want to let you all know that I know
that our Savior lives. He loves each of you so much and is very aware
of all that you are trying to do in your life. He will consecrate
every righteous desire that we have. I am so grateful for the
Atonement that he suffered for each of us that we may repent daily and
feel his presence in our life each day of our lives. I know that this
church is true. I have a little notebook of reasons why I am on my
mission. A lot of them are people. A lot of them are also the things
that I have learned so far. And the rest are things that I know I will
learn before my mission is complete. I love Elder Bednars quote of, "A
release from a full-time mission is a call to a LIFE time mission."
May the Lord bless you with even MORE missionary opportunities that we
may all be life Ammon and Alma that each time we come together, we can
rejoice in one anothers success in bringing souls unto Christ. Thank
you again for all that you have done for me. I love you more than you
could possibly imagine. I cant wait to hear about all your exciting
adventures, funny moments, and gospel findings next week. I wish you
all a blessed week filled with all the happiness you deserve.

Love for always,
Sister Fokken

February 27

This week was 10 times busier than the last but I had many wonderful experiences as well. Have I told you how wonderful our ward is here? Well, they are basically like our family in missionary work, but there are like 5 or 6 "Fokken" families so to speak. This last week we went to teach a friend of our ward mission leader's wife, who also cleans their home. Her name is Jasmine. She reminds me a lot of my roommate Amber. Very much a free spirit but believes that there is a higher power. She spoke of how Sister Gysler (the wife of our WML) is an angel in her life and how she feels like there is a reason why she met Sister Gysler and how she feels just really good about herself and about life when she is in their home. We had an amazing lesson with her but it was Sister Gyslers testimony that really got her engaged in the discussion. I cannot express the importance of a friends testimony when meeting with the missionaries. Today I was reading in Alma 19 verse 31 and this is right after Ammon explained the plan of Salvation to the King and then he collapsed and then he arose and testified, collapsed again and all that were in the house, save it be Abish, collapse in the Spirit. The whole town came running, and were contending one with another and thought the nephite, Ammon, had brought an evil into the home. Then, the King arose and testified of the things that Ammon had taught him and all that heard his testimony were converted. The same type of thing happens with King Lamoni's father and his household (Alma 22:23) It was once again just saying to me just how important it is to have members in our lessons with their friends so that they can testify of what we are saying. Just think about it. If you had a stranger come and tell you to change something and bear their soul to you, it wouldnt mean nearly as much to you as if you were to hear it from someone you loved, and admired. (Sorry my english is horrible... i cant speak either language very well right now...) But think about that the next time you go out with the missionaries or you look for friends that you feel you need to share the gospel with. Keep up the Good work. The Lord is so proud of all of you. I love you all so much.

Oh by the way, the success continued as we concluded with meeting with Jasmine, she took the Book of Mormon and was excited to read it. She prayed at the end of our discussion and was really happy. After that, we headed to the church to see if our investigators had made it to the dance course that a member couple was teaching that night. THEY CAME++++ and they found the church all by themselves. And after we spoke with them for a few minutes, we had to leave but the members are awesome and took care of them and invited them to come to church and to a baptism and they said that they were excited to come and excited for the next dance course. It was awesome. We actually missed our bus and walked 40 min back to our Apartment... but, we were so excited, it didnt matter. But we were burnt out the next day.

Oh something else cool that I keep forgetting to tell you... I totally slept through a 4.2 earthquake about three weeks ago... Ha, and I wasnt even burned out then+ It was just a normal missionary exhaustion that night... ha, yeah, best sleep I've ever gotten has been on my mission... thats for sure. Okay well that was like a novel and a half. but I hope that you enjoyed it nonetheless. We are going to the Zoo today. and guess what???????? THEY HAVE PENGUINS ON PARADE. I am so excited. I love penguins.... love. them. :)

I hope your weeks are filled with joy and happiness and gratitude for the blessings we receive for being a covenant people in these latter days. May the Lord continue to bless you and all that you are trying to achieve in your lives. He Lives. I know He lives. This IS HIS church on the earth today. I know that with my whole heart. This work is so important, and I am so grateful for a family that supports me and this work not only in words but also in actions. Being missionaries themselves. It has been wonderful to see just how many blessings my family has received because of my decision to serve a mission and give my whole life to him for 18 months. I love Him and will do anything for him. I hope you can do the same. So that one day we can dwell in the Celestial Kingdom together and say as a FAMILY that we have done all that we could do in this mortal life to prepare ourselves and others to enter, with confidence, into His presence and dwell with him forever. My heart swells with joy at the very thought of this day. Continue to be great and I will talk to you next week.

Liebe,
Sister Fokken

February 20, 2012

Best Course on Life.... My Mission

Hello there,

Man this is killing me not to be able to make an exclamation point.
Anyways, this week has been a tougher one on the mission. Last monday
was probably the hardest day of my mission thus far. Have I told you
about our neighbor man? He is really cool but really opinionated and
I am still as stubborn and strong willed as he is. Or at least I was
last Monday. We had a blast playing soccer/basketball with our
district last monday and when we were on the train to go home, we
noticed that "neighborman" had called about 3 hours earlier. We sent
him a text because figured that he was just at work on Lunch break
when he called and we didnt want to disturb him at work. Well, we got
home and didnt hear from him. He then came and knocked on our front
door and we asked why he had called earlier and he said it was a test
to see if we were true to our word as in that he could call us
anytime. Well, we failed his little "test" but I wasnt really
bothered. I thought it was stupid. So we told him that we had an
appointment and that we would be back later and we can talk some more.
So after we had FHE with our ward mission leader we headed back to
talk to Neighborman. We talked for nearly two hours. He was mad about
something and I wasnt sure what. He didnt like that I was really
serious when I talked about the Gospel and he said and did some other
things that made my blood boil a little. And Sr Phillips even got mad
and she NEVER gets mad... I truly felt like Christ at times during the
conversation where I would try to teach a gospel principle and he
would interupt and change topics and tell us that we dont know
anything and that all religions are the same. He spoke to us as if he
thought he knew everything about us and that we knew nothing about
what it meant to live a hard life. That was probably the hardest thing
for me to hear. My life hasnt been as bad as his I am sure, but he
knows absolutely nothing about my past. Things that I had to struggle
with. People I've lost. Friends that have betrayed me. He knew nothing
yet he told me all about his life and how hard it is and how it is
more important to be happy than anything. There came a point that I
just stopped talking and stood there in wonder as to why he was the
way he was? At that point in the conversation he started making fun of
me for looking tired and told me to stop drinking so much and to get
some sleep. I know he was just joking but still, I was just astounded
as to how he could act the way he did. He then put a rolled up news
paper in my face and said something that I cant remember. I grabbed
the paper and pushed it calmly out of my face but he again put it in
my face. That is the point that Sister Phillips was about to deck him
in the face. After that, I said he was right I need to go get some
sleep. Sister Phillips prayed and we went back up to our apartment. I
walked in and collapsed by my bed and sobbed. I felt the love the Lord
has for Neighborman so powerfully and yet he still denied everything I
said. I felt the heartache the Lord feels when he sees one of his
children reject his beautiful perfect plan, and refuse to change and
grow. I have never felt such a great desire for the salvation of men
as I did that evening. I know now exactly how the prophets in the Book
of Mormon felt when they wept for their brethern who didnt know the
gospel or who just denied it and rebelled openly against them. I
learned so much in these two hours. I wish I could tell you all that I
learned. But I think the thing that I learned the most is how to love.
I LOVE these people. Now I just need to learn how to show it.

The week was pretty slow after that. We had a few appointments but
mostly we were going by former investigators or potential
investigators. We had no luck. It may be because I kinda sort of
prayed for more humility. Whoops. But I have learned a lot about
myself and that I cant do this work alone. I love my mission. I love
my companion. The Lord definately knows what he is doing. I love the
gospel more than words can express and I cant deny the power of God
and the power of the Atonement and this gospel. On Saturday, we went
out to dinner with Neighborman because he doesnt want to meet at a
members home and we cant meet with his in his apartment so we went to
a pizzeria and he told us about a lot of things. Probably one of the
funniest days of my mission. He told us about how you cant just go and
talk to someone about the gospel. You have to show your love first and
then they will feel that love and be more open to the gospel. He has a
point, but missionaries have superpowers that he doesnt even know
about. That may be how he will come to the gospel is just by us
showing him the love of Christ and then he'll be more open about
talking about Christ. But I know that there are several other children
that are just waiting for the gospel, looking for a hole that needs to
be filled and will do anything to be happy in this life. TRULY HAPPY.
This really is a wonderful life. Something that is so short. I am
doing all I can to give my all and find the lost sheep I promised the
Lord before I came to this earth that I would find.

There is a song called, "Fire of God" by Kenneth Cope and it has
become one of my favorites. It expresses exactly how I feel. Well the
first verse and chorus. I'll get to the other verses later. But I have
had too many miracles happen in my life to deny that this IS the
Lord's church. Another song that really struck me this week was one
that the young men sang yesterday at church. It's called, "I'll Find
You My Friend". Look that one up too. Ahh, they are just sooo good.
They make me feel excited to be a missionary.

On a happier more uplifting note, I want you to STOP reading this
right now and go to YouTube and type in "Tribute to Relief Society" by
Alex Boye. Right now.... Go..... I am not going to start typing
anymore until you listen to it.........

.....

..............

......

Okay so I obviously cant wait forever, but this song is HILARIOUS. We
heard it at an Relief Society activity earlier this week and I about
jumped to the moon because it was so awesome. I love relief society.
This last week we had an activity where it was a film night where you
had to have your ticket and they tore your ticket just like at the
theaters, they had posters of other movies all around the church
house, they had a snack stand, previews, and everything. I really want
to do this when I go home. It is so cool. We stayed for the previews
because they were mostly mormon ads and stuff and then this song. It
was really cool.


Yesterday on our way to church, we were getting ready to walk out the
door and Sister Phillips prayed. I dont remember much about her prayed
except that she asked for an opportunity to participate at church. I
was a little worried at first but then didnt think anything of it.
Well, while we were greeting everyone in the foyer, the sunday school
president asked us if we could give a 5 min overview of the Plan of
Salvation. I hestitated slightly but said that we could do it. I was
way nervous but Sister Phillips kept her cool. (Really weird because
usually its the other way around...) We got up and taught about the
plan of salvation and bore powerful testimony. Sister Phillips told me
after church that the parents of some very active members were NOT
members of the church. It was awesome. I absolutely love Sister
Phillips and seeing her working through the spirit. She is truly such
an amazing example to me.

Bis Nächste Mal,
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.

February 6, 2012

One more time...

So I am staying in Richterswil for another transfer with the same best companion in the whole world. I love my life.

Yesterday, we had an amazing testimony meeting. I love this ward so much. They remind me a lot of the Ralston Lavista ward actually. Everyone is so friendly and just so missionary minded. The bishops wife got up yesterday and told of her experience in sharing the Book of Mormon with her neighbor and how she gave it as a "going away present." When the neighbor took the wrapped book, not knowing for SURE what it was, she held it close to her heart and with deepest sincerity thanked the member for such a wonderful gift. This neighbor knew that this book was special even before she read it. This is the power of the Book of Mormon. Several others followed her and shared all their missionary moments and they nearly brought me to tears. During the third hour, we had a combined RS and Priesthood lesson about the Book of Mormon and modern technilogical missionary tools that we could use. It was a powerful lesson. A member of our mission presidency came and talked about the goal of the mission and how the members could get involved. It was marvelous. Then our GML (aka ward mission leader) invited each family there to take two Books of Mormon. One they would take and write their testimony there in and then return it to us missionaries to give to someone else. The second book would be for them to give away to someone else this year. We had brought nearly 35 books to the church that day and only walked away with 8. After the meeting, a member came to us and said that she was going to invite our investigator over for dinner soon and she wanted us to be there as well. This morning, another member called us and invited us to help a friend move (interestingly enough, it is the neighbor to the bishop, who received a Book of Mormon last week). The Work is going forward.

I have seen many miracles come this week. Once again, I got pretty sick again and Sister Phillips got sick as well... We spent a lot of time studying while each other were trying to sleep off this sickness we had. On Saturday, we were going to go play floor hockey with our ward and a less active in the ward, and then go to a dinner appointment that evening. Well, we were both pretty sick on Saturday and couldnt go play hockey (which was okay because the less active couldnt come after all) and we cancelled our dinner appointment. We felt bad but at peace at the same time. We were planning and filing out the Progress Record for Sunday, and I felt that we needed to call our neighbor, Rocco, and invite him to church. I called him and he said no, but he said that he would come talk to us after he got home. We spoke with him for nearly an hour and he is such an amazing person. He said he was planning on coming to church all week but then today, there was just too much, and he didnt feel like facing 80 random people. I asked him if we could pray with him and he said certainly. I prayed and the spirit was so strong. After the prayer, his whole countanance had changed. He still didnt feel like coming to church, but he was touched that we would pray for him like we did. It was so cool.

Another little miracle happened yesterday. We were on our way home from our GML's house and I felt that we needed to take a train that left earlier and so we did. We went to go see Maria and luckily she was home. She let us in, we taught her and set up another appointment for Wednesday. Had we taken the train an hour later like we were planning on, we wouldn't have been able to sit down and meet with her because her friend was calling from Brasil around the time that we would have gotten there.

This week, I have received more spiritual promptings as I ever have in my entire life. I feel so blessed to be worthy to receive such spiritual promptings. I have been praying hard this last week to be a better tool in the Lords hands and to be able to recognize his will and have the courage to follow the spirit. Especially when I had to sleep longer than usual and I felt like an awful missionary for sleeping during valuable time. As I pleaded with the Lord to know what more I could do, I read Mosiah 4:27. What a comfort that was to know that the Lord is still pleased with me and knows me individually.

May the Lord bless you with all the righteous desires of your heart.

Liebe,
Sister Fokken

PS I have gotten several compliments on my german lately. Woot. More evidence that the gospel is true. :)



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.


January 23, 2012

SCHAAAAWEEEET

So this week has been crazy awesome. It is seriously such a good time to be a missionary here in Richterswil. Let me just explain to you some of the little tender mercies we have seen, aka evidences from the Lord that we are doing EXACTLY what we are supposed to be doing.

We got a referral from the Luzern Elders the other day and we didn't really think much of it. We traveled about an hour and a half by train to contact two referrals that we had. Gotta love missionary work in Switzerland. On our way to a little place called Steinen, we got on this train and we were talking in english about something, I can't remember now what it was, but then a lady just looks at me with a curious look on her face and I can't help but smile back. She asked where we were from (in English) and what we were doing exactly. We told her we were here to invite people to come to Christ. She told us about how her faith in Christ has helped her in her marriage. She has been married for 28 years and I said congratulations, and she said it was only through the grace of God that it was possible. We started talking about the Book of Mormon and she said, "I know that book, and I will never read it." Not surprising, thats what a lot of people say. So I began to inquire why she would never read it. She gave the typical answer that no one should add to the Bible. We talked a little bit more and I just bore my testimony that it IS true and it IS the word of God and that everyone can know if it is true if they just read it and pray about it. She didn't accept what I said, but that was the first time in my life that I wasn't really hurt or offended or mad at someone for doubting my beliefs. I know what I believe and I am just here to invite and find those whom he has prepared. She just isnt ready yet.

After we finally got to Steinen, we found the potential and they told us that they weren't interested but I have no doubt that someday they will be very interested. They were very sweet people. After that we took another train to Schwyz to meet with the other referral that we received. His name is Nikolaus and he is from Greece and he is awesome. Very interested in what we believe. We were able to teach him the introduction lesson and it was so awesome. He has a strong desire to change his life around. And I have a feeling that as he reads the Book of Mormon he will feel the power there of and have a desire to come unto Christ. He is just so wonderful. After this awesome appointment we started the journey home. We found a train that went passed where we needed but we knew that we could take a train from there to our little city. So, we boarded the train. Then about half way through the ride, I saw another train that I thought would be faster, so we hurried up and got off the train and boarded the other train. Well to make a long story short, this train went in the wrong direction and we ended up waiting for 20 min for another train that took us to another stop that we waited another 20 mins for and ahh, I felt so bad. Instead of getting home at 9:29pm we got home at 9:50pm ish.... So schlimm. But we had a lot of fun, playing in the snow waiting for the trains. Ha, I challenged Sister Phillips to a slidding contest and she totally biffed it and was soaking wet... SOOOO funny.

The miracles geht weider. Just yesterday we were on our way to an appointment and there is a small train that comes right by our house that we like to take. We were waiting for the train and enjoying the sunset when the train came and was slowing down. Suddenly, Sister Phillips says, "There's Momo." Momo is a former investigator that we have been trying to contact for the last 3 months. We had a good chat with him and he asked US if we had time to meet on Thursday. We said of course and continued on our way to our appointment. We got to Familie Koch and made a sad attempt at teaching their 7 year old son in german about the Laws and Ordinances of the Gospel. The children here don't speak high german very well and they REALLY don't understand broken high german. Thank goodness his parents are there to interperate what we say. Afterwards we had dinner. I cannot tell you how many times I have had cake or cookies for dinner. It is crazy. But its alway so good. Finally we made our way to the door once more, (after talking about Mitt Romney for a few minutes or so...) then we walked back to the train station. We missed the train that left at 18:03 and thus missed our connecting train that only comes once an hour. So we had to take the 18:35 train and take a bus back to our house. Not a big deal just a little less convenient. Well it turns out that our neighbor, Rocco, whom we gave a Book of Mormon to last Sunday, took the same bus. We talked to him from the bus station all the way to our apartment and talked to him for another 20 min or so. He said that he was starting a new diet where he is only drinking juice and tea for the next 21 days with no food. Talk about will power. But he said that he wants to change his life and it is so nice that he also has "our" book to read while he is making these changes. He has read about 136 pages thus far in the Book of Mormon and he said that everything he's read is in line with what he believes. I again bore my testimony of the many wonderful examples in the Book of Mormon and we invited him to come to church and he sounded like he would really like to come. We were thrilled. We exchanged numbers and we hope to hear from him soon.

I know that this work is the work of the Lord. There is no way that all of these things should have happened the way they did. Missing trains, buses, being late to appointments is all in the hand of the Lord. He knows who we need to see and how we can meet with them. Life is so cool as a missionary. I wouldnt want to be doing anything else in the world right now. The church is true. Our Savior lives. The Book of Mormon is the key to the knowledge we need to be happy in THIS life and to return to the presence of our Father in Heaven.

Take care this week,
Liebe, 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.


January 2, 2012

RICHTERSWIL

So I am now in a place called Richterswil and I love it. The best part about it is that I am with my MTC companion again, Sister Phillips. She is still one of the best people I have ever met. Now to be companions with her once more is a total blessing. We have had fun reminissing about the good times we had together in the MTC and also talking about what we have learned about ourselves, missionary work, and the people so far on our missions. We also found out that Sister Taysom is training. Sister Marquard (not sure about the spelling) is her new Golden. We are so excited for Sister Taysom. She is one of the best missionaries ever. We also recieved Sister Cannon in our Zone. She is awesome and grew up with one of my roommates. The world is sooooooo small. Life is so good as a missionary. We have such a great mission President as well. He has set the goal of doubling our baptisms for the next year. We are doing a special fast for our mission this coming Sunday so that we can not only build unity in the mission but also so that we can achieve the goal of having 300+ baptisms next year. I received a personal witness that this goal can and will be achieved if we do what the president has asked which is to 1) hand out a book of mormon everyday to someone who we feel inspired to give it to and who commits to read it 2) are exactly obedient 3) and if we read two chapters in the Book of Mormon each day. I am so proud to be a missionary in the Alpenländische Mission. I love seeing miracles each and everyday of my life. We met a woman on the train the other day and she was amazed at the book of mormon and that we would give our lives to the Lord for 18 months. She took the Book of Mormon and promised to read it. It was such a spiritual experience to hear her talk about Jesus Christ and about a dream that she had in which she can NEVER deny that Jesus is the Christ. We also met with a part-member family the other day and they are amazing. They read the Book of Mormon each evening as a family and pray together  daily. They are the sweetest people ever. I love my Savior. I know he LIVES. He loves each of his children. Especially YOU. May the Lord Bless you and may you continue to be missionary minded and seek out those that are straying from the fold. The only way that missionaries can have true success is if you get involved. I would invite you to pray for the Lord to show you someone in your path that you could share the beautiful message of the Restoration with them. I promise you as you do so, you will find a peace come into your life and a new friend throughout all eternity.

With all the Love I can muster,
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.