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. :)

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



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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