30 December 2009

There are so many good people...

Things are really exciting for us in Suriname. We have set a goal to have a baptismal service on 2 January for our zone and baptize many people. Elder Koenen and I are working with some great people ourselves and hope that they will be baptized that day.

I got a letter from Vocalis. In the letter they put the CD we made before my mission. It is great. It sounds really nice and it brings back good memories. It would be great to sing with them again.

Anyway, we are working hard with new investigators and less active members. We are trying to find a new balance between finding and reactivation. The focus of the mission is reactivation. We are seeing a lot of success in that area. There are so many good people that have been baptized in the last few years that have gone less active and we want them back. We have started a big joint effort with members and missionaries to get these people back. The goal is to invite them back and to teach their families and friends, so we will still be able to increase membership and church attendance. President Gamiette was inspired to make these changes and they are working.

Sacrament Meeting was good. We had very good speakers and they all did very well. I have started a habit that I want to continue. I have started taking notes in every meeting that I attend and I was amazed at how much I can get out of meetings and other gatherings. The Spirit just teaches you more because you are showing God that you are willing to remember and write it down. You should try it. It really works. I have learned so much.

I love you all,

Jeff

24 December 2009

Greetings from the Mission Field

Posted by Picasa


Mr. Krueger's Christmas

When I (Pieter Vernes) was a missionary in Ireland I first watched this video. I think it is a nice Christmas Story.


21 December 2009

Joy to the World

The choir sounded amazing

This week was quite a busy week for us. We drove out to Nickerie through the jungle to visit Elders Croese and Roepers. They are doing really well out there and are working hard. We had a short exchange and drove back on Wednesday.


Elder Vernes and Elder Koenen

Elder Koenen and I held a Zone Meeting with the entire zone about the new vision that President Gamiette has for the mission. When we were in Trinidad, we were able to hear firsthand what this new vision encompasses. We tried to make it as clear to the zone as possible, so that there would not be any confusion and we would be able to work together in unity and see success. It ended up being a very uplifting meeting.

After that Zone Meeting we worked for the rest of the day and at 8.00 pm drove around moving around some Elders, so we would be able to put the new Elder in the right place. There were some last minute transfers that we had to take care of. Around 10 pm we left to the airport to pick up Elder Bytendorp. Elder Koenen and I decided to take Elder Holz who is training Elder Bytendorp. We also decided to play a little trick on the new elder. I ended up being Elder Koenen and Elder Koenen was Elder Holz and Elder Holz was me. It was very funny and Elder Bytendorp had to laugh after we finally switched nametags again after half a day of playing the other person.

Then there was the Christmas party at which the Choir sang really really well. They sounded amazing. We are now working on keeping this alive so that they will be able to have a District Choir. We got a lot of compliments from the people that were there. There were about 350 people at the party.

President Gamiette will be coming in for Zone Conference today. We will have Zone Conference tomorrow. I am excited because it is always such a spiritual and uplifting time.

Thank you for that great package. I left to gifts wrapped and will open them on Christmas Day. We have received instructions on what to do for Christmas. We want to do a lot of service that day and have a good time as a zone. The phone calls will be around 5 pm Suriname time. I look forward to talk to you all.

Thank you for everything. Love,
Jeff

18 December 2009

Driving through the Jungle.

We received this week 2 CDs with pictures from Jeff. Below you can find a few pictures from the mission field and his weekly message.









Elder Koenen and I had a great last week. We flew to Trinidad for a Zone Leader Council with president Gamiette. The Spirit was so strong during that meeting. I have never felt the spirit so strongly on my mission as in that meeting. I really felt that the things we had discussed were from God and I have never received so much inspiration at one moment in my life. President gamiette is an inspired leader for us as missionaries in the West Indies. I felt that so strongly as he testified about the new course the mission is taking.


Being a Zone Leader is not as easy as it sounds. We need to drive around a lot and do a lot of things that are not always related to the actual work. On Wednesday we need to drive to the airport to pick up new elders. Tomorrow we will be driving to Nickerie to go on exchanges with the elders. That's 4 hours away. The road goes right through the jungle. I am excited to see what it is like.

That's all for today. I hope all is well.

Love,



Jeff

08 December 2009

Nieuwe Uitdaging

Bedankt voor jullie emails en opbouwende woorden. Deze laatste paar dagen waren heel anders dan de rest. Het was weer tijd voor transfer calls. President Gamiette heeft vrijdag met de Elders gesproken en ik kreeg dus ook en transfer call. Toen president Gamiette belde zei hij, "Good afternoon Elder Vernes, how are you?" Ik zei dat het goed ging en hij vertelde mij, "you are going to be the new Zone Leader." Toen ik dat hoorde, wist ik niet echt wat ik moest zeggen en er kwam alleen een "Oh...ok..." uit mijn mond. Het moet zo raar hebben geklonken omdat hij vroeg ofdat alles in orde was. Ik zei dat alles prima was en hij zei gewoon, "Great. Have a great day. Bye."

Ik kon het niet geloven. Alle Elders wisten dat er een nieuwe zoneleider deze of de volgende transfer zou komen omdat de huidige zoneleider over 6 weken naar huis gaat. Ik had alleen niet gedacht dat ik het zou worden omdat er elders zijn die veel beter zouden zijn, die goede kwaliteiten als zendelingen hebben, waaraan ik nog moet werken. The Lord calls us in our weakness, I guess.

Met die nieuwe roeping als zoneleider zal ik ook een auto ofwel een bus moeten rijden. Mijn nieuwe collega, Elder Koenen, heeft geen rijbewijs en daardoor zou ik dus altijd die bus moeten rijden. Het is heel anders dan op de fiets en ik ben benieuwd hoe dat zal gaan. Het zal wel goed gaan.

Onze onderzoekster werd deze week nog niet gedoopt maar zal komende Zaterdag gedoopt worden. Ze kijkt er erg neer uit en kan niet wachten. Ze leest iedere dag het Boek van Mormon en vindt het geweldig. Het is altijd goed om te zien hoedat iemand verandert door het Boek van Mormon te bestuderen. Een van haar zusjes kwam zondag ook naar de kerk en vond het geweldig.

De leden van het koor doen werkelijk hun best. Vorige zaterdag hebben zij geweldig gezongen en ik ben ervan overtuigd dat het een geweldige avond wordt.

Nou met mij gaat het goed. Ik heb gelukkig lang geen klachten over mijn mond gehad. Daarover ben ik ook heel blij. Ik leer iedere dag veel door mijn schriftstudie en die dingen die wij als zendelingen iedere dag doen. Ik wil het voor de rest van mijn leven zo blijven doen. Ik wordt er telkens weer van opgebouwd.

Love,

Jeff

04 December 2009

Nog maar 7 maanden

De week is erg goed gelopen en we hebben toch heel wat succes gezien. We zullen deze week een doopdienst hebben en we hebben nog een paar andere onderzoekers die vooruitgang maken.

Het koor gaat heel goed vooruit. De leden van het koor zijn gemotiveerd om hun best to doen en we hebben samen een leuke tijd. Ze hebben geweldige stemmen en het klinkt erg mooi. Er is nog veel werk te doen maar ik denk dat we het halen en dat het goed zal klinken.

Ik ben blij dat mijn brief met de post is aangekomen. De foto's zijn onderweg. Ik heb ze gestuurd. Het probleem was alleen dat ik die foto's niet in het zelfde postkantoor kon versturen en daardoor naar een post kantoor moest gaan dat buiten mijn gebied ligt. Ik heb Elder en Zuster Dirkmaat gevraagd om dat voor mij te doen en zover ik weet zijn die foto's dus onderweg. Ik hoop dat ze goed aankomen. Ik zal die foto's dan pas van mijn toestel wissen als jullie ze hebben.

Ik kan amper geloven dat ik nu nog maar 7 maanden op zending heb. De tijd gaat echt snel voorbij. Het is toch wel een beetje raar om erover na te denken dat thuis het leven gewoon doorgaat. Whitney is in de UK. Amy wordt langer en langer. Ik heb vorige week een brief van iemand uit het Vocalis koor gekregen en heb gelezen dat sommige vrienden van het koor gaan trouwen of verloofd zijn. Als zendeling heb toch wel een beetje het idee dat thuis alles stilstaat totdat je zulke dingen hoort. Ik werd gevraagd ofdat ik als begeleider bij het EFY wilde deelnemen. Ik heb erop geantwoord en zei dat ik het op dit moment nog niet zal weten aangezien er nog heel wat dingen te regelen zijn voor mijn studie na mijn zending.

Ik ben met mijn studies van het Boek van Mormon in Mosiah. Koning Benjamin heeft net zijn toespraak beeindigd en het volk heeft zich bekeerd. Ik heb uit mijn dagelijkse studies zo veel kunnen leren en mijn getuigenis is enorm gegroeid. Ik ben dankbaar voor het Boek van Mormon.

Wat leuk dat jullie een berichtje ontvingen van Broeder Davidson. Ja, ik ken hem goed. Hij is een geweldig persoon. Hij helpt ons veel en is ook een grote hulp voor de gemeente hier in blauwgrond.

Zo dat was die weer. Ik hou van jullie. Bedankt voor jullie gebeden.

Jeff

24 November 2009

Dankbaar - Thankful

Elder Vernes wrote another e-mail in Dutch. It is interesting to see how he has developed a love for this language. He never went to school in Holland nor did he have any official Dutch lessons. The only Dutch he heard was at home. In matter of fact when he was a little kid and we drove to Holland, he was amazed that so many other people spoke the same language we spoke at home. Below you can read his weekly message. Thank you for your love and friendship. Elder Vernes is alos very pleased for all the mail he received from all of you.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ik ben zo dankbaar dat ik in een gezin kon opgroeien waarin het evangelie geleerd werd. Ook de mensen hier in Suriname zijn geweldig. Ze hebben zo'n sterk geloof. Ze zijn werkelijk bereid om alles te geven. Ik heb zoiets nog nooit eerder gezien. Ik ben ook werkelijk van deze mensen gaan houden en ik ben ook zeer dankbaar voor hun.



Elder Baantje en ik hadden een vrij goede week samen. We hadden een onderzoekster in de kerk. Ze vond het geweldig. Het leuke is dat zij iemand in de kerk kent. Haar schoonmoeder is namelijk lid van de kerk en ze waren blij om elkaar in de kerk te zien. Ze wil volgende week ook komen en op 5 December gedoopt worden.

De kooroefening was Zaterdag geweldig. Deze mensen kunnen zo mooi zingen. Ze zijn geweldig. Ze zijn gemotiveerd en ze houden van muziek. Ik vind het geweldig om met hun samen te werken. Ik denk echt dat het op 19 December een geweldige avond zal worden en dat de andere leden van de kerk en bezoekers het ook geweldig zullen vinden. We hebben een paar solisten die echt geweldige stemmen hebben. Ik heb een paar van de Ritfelds gevraagd om solo's te zingen. Hun hebben echt geweldige stemmen.

Zoneconferentie was geweldig. President Gamiette heeft erover gesproken hoedat wij het Boek van Mormon meer moeten gebruiken tijdens het zendingswerk. Doordat het een tweede getuige is van Christus een een belangerijk onderdeel van ons evangelie is, is het verstandig iedereen aan te moedigen het Boek van Mormon te lezen zodat zij een getuigenis van het boek kunnen krijgen. Wij als zendelingen moeten ook iedere dag in het Boek van Mormon lezen. Ik ben ermee bezig het Boek van Mormon in het Nederlands te bestuderen. Ik ben nu in Mosiah 4. Ik leer zo veel en ik weet dat het het woord van God is en dat wij door het te bestuderen betere mensen kunnen worden. Ik ben echt een sterker getuigenis van het Boek van Mormon gaan ontwikkelen en daar ben ik heel dankbaar voor.

Liefs,

Jeff

11 November 2009

Blauwgrond is very nice.


This past week was better than the week before, except that none of our investigators came to church. Many of them said that they would come, but they just did not show up. We don’t know why they would not come. We are teaching many good people, they read the Book of Mormon, they pray and are searching for answers, but they are not taking the step to come to church. It is really sad, because we need to let them go when they are not making progress and find other people to teach. We are contacting new people that are willing to take those steps.

The choir is making great progress. We have about 15 people come to our weekly rehearsals. It is challenging but also very enjoyable. We are learning fast and it start to sound pretty nice. We still need to work on some details before we can perform, but I am confident that we’ll succeed. Elder Dirkmaat, a senior missionary is also singing with the choir and he really enjoys it.




The Blauwgrond district is very nice. There are many rich people here that are not willing to talk to us, but there are a few that are humble enough to listen to us and are willing to pray and ask if the message we share is true.

The unit in Blauwgrond is very small they have a many less-active members. We are visiting a less-active family that have not come to church for many years. It is sad to see these people when they don’t realize what they are missing out. They all say; “We will come again when we are ready for it. When God want us to come, we will come.” I wish they could feel the love of the savior and understand the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and how important it is to renew our covenants by taking the sacrament each week.





I am grateful for my testimony. I am so grateful for the church and the sacrament. When we repent, attend our sacrament meetings and partake of the sacrament, we can be forgiven of our shortcomings through the atonement of Christ. I hope and pray that we as missionaries can always reach out to people and have them understand the joy the gospel can bring to each of us.

By the way, I just received a call from the senior missionaries that a package arrived for me. I will pick it up today and I am anxious to find out what is in it. Thank you dad for the music you sent me. I can really use it.

Love you all,

Jeff

02 November 2009

I really enjoy working with these great people

Last week I mentioned that I may have to go to Nickerie, well I received a call that I have to stay in Paramaribo to assist with the choir. I am now staying in Blauwgrond which is located at the north side of Paramaribo. My new companion is Elder Baantje. He is from Utah and a great missionary. His Father is Dutch and his mother comes from Indonesia and also lived in Holland.

We had our first choir rehearsal on Saturday and during this time we were visited by President Nazier from the District Presidency, President Hymas, counselor in the Mission Presidency and Area Authority Elder Averado. They were just interested to see how I was doing with the choir. After the rehearsal they told me that they enjoyed it and that they look forward to the Christmas concert. I personally think that it will be a great success. The choir has excellent singers from the Paramaribo area. There are also members from my former area in Wanica. We will have a rehearsal each Saturday at 6:30 PM and I really enjoy working with these great people. We have to be finished on 19 December.

We had a very good week. The sacrament meeting was very uplifting. The spirit was very strong and I felt edified. I feel so blessed to learn from the members here in Suriname. They work so hard and they have a strong desire to grow. I have never seen so many faithful and dedicated members and they are so focused on achieving their goals. I am sure that the Lord will reward their faithfulness and hard work.

I was very happy to hear that mom gave a great talk at the Stake Conference. I am sure that she spoke with a strong spirit when she talked about the atonement of Christ. I am also very grateful for the atonement and I am especially grateful for parents that taught me the gospel. I realize that I have learned a lot from your testimonies.

Well that's it for this week. I love you all.

Love, Jeff

14 October 2009

99 new contacts in one week


We received another e-mail in Dutch this week from our son. He wrote many personal things that would not be appropriate to publish in this blog, but he is doing well and he enjoys his mission. He had a very uplifting week and had a great discussion with his mission president. His love and testimony of our redeemer Jesus Christ has grown and he loves to share the gospel and musical talents with the people in his mission field.

He and his companion Elder Roepers had set a goal to get 100 new contacts this week and they achieved 99 in one week. They also have another baptism scheduled on Saturday of young man that studies in Paramaribo.

If you have some time, please send him a letter and let him know how you are. Missionaries always love to receive mail. His mailing address is posted on this blog.

Love,
A Missionary Dad


Video created by Davidkat99 (youtube)

05 October 2009

Happy Birthday Dad

Happy Birthday, Dad. As I was sitting in Priesthood meeting I could not help but think about all of those times that we sat in Priesthood meeting together and listened to the words of the prophets. I am grateful for you as my father. I love you very much. Thank you. I hope you have a great and successful day.

I was able to learn so much during this last weekend. The words of the Lord's anointed have touched me deeply. I have been thinking a lot about personal revelation and charity and that is what conference was all about. (At least to me that's what it seemed like. I think it is amazing that different people get different things out of conference.) Service through charity is really the key to success and I have been able to see that in my life and in the lives of others as I have worked as a missionary. I am grateful for the fact that I was able to listen to the prophet and the other leaders of the church.

We were able to baptize sister Williams after the first session of conference and confirm her on Sunday after the first session. She is a great sister. She has such a strong testimony of the restored gospel and she shared that with the people at her baptism.

At conference I was able to see some of the great members of the Wanica branch. I was happy to see the Ritfeld family, the Druiventak family and some of the others that sang in the choir and they have become great friends. I was even able to see some of the recent converts. It is always great to see the people you baptized that are active in the church. The members were proud to report that they had kept the choir going and that they had performed during a district conference just before I came back. I have heard many people talk about the choir and their performance and they were amazing. Now that I am back they want me to teach piano and start another choir in the branch I am serving in currently.

I know our Heavenly Father lives and loves us. His Son Jesus Christ did in fact die for us. He engraved our names in the palms of his hands, and I am thankful for that. I am thankful for parents that have taught me that and have made it possible for me to teach others about what I know to be true.

Love, Jeff

For those that missed seeing general conference, you can still watch it @ http://www.byu.tv/

01 October 2009

28 September 2009

This blog posting is in Dutch

Ik zal proberen om deze email in het Nederlands te schrijven. Ik schrijf iedere avond in mijn dagboek en dat doe ik dus in het Nederlands. Door hier in Suriname te zijn is mijn Nederlands veel beter geworden.


Bedankt voor de emails die jullie hebben geschreven. Het is altijd geweldig van jullie te horen. Ik ben blij dat het goed gaat. Deze week was niet zo geweldig. We hadden gehoopt dat wij zaterdag een doopdienst zouden hebben, maar dat is dus niet door gegaan. Een jonge dame van 17 jaar wilde heel graag gedoopt worden, maar er zijn zo veel dingen er tussen gekomen, dat ze uiteindelijk niet gedoopt is. Wij hopen dat ze komende week gedoopt kan worden. Zij heeft echt een sterk getuigenis en weet gewoon dat de kerk waar is. Wij proberen alles te doen om haar wens in vervulling te laten gaan.

Voor de komende week hebben wij ook nog een andere persoon, die gedoopt kan worden en gedoopt zal worden. Ze heet zuster Williams. Ze onderzoekt de kerk nu al 4 weken. Wij hebben haar gevraagd ofdat ze op 3 Oktober gedoopt wil worden en ze zei eerst "nee". Toen wij zaterdag terug kwamen zei zij dat zij had gebeden en dat ze voelde dat het toch een goede stap was omdat zich te laten dopen. Ze zal een geweldig lid van de kerk worden. Op 3 Oktober wordt zei dus om vier uur gedoopt. Dat is tussen de sessies van algemene conferentie.

Ik ben blij dat het weer tijd is om naar algemene conferentie te gaan. Ik vind het altijd een goede ervaring. Hier op zending heb ik het gevoel dat ik zo veel meer leer dan dat ik voor mijn zending deed. Wij zullen een paar onderzoekers bij de sessies hebben en ik weet dat zij zullen weten dat deze kerk waar is zodra zij de profeet horen spreken.

Ik kan niet geloven dat ik nu nog maar negen manden op zending heb en dat de tijd zo snel is voorbij gegaan. Er zijn nog zo veel dingen die ik op zending wil leren. Ik heb de laatste paar weken het onderwerp naastenliefde en geduld gestudeerd. Ik heb zo veel door de schriften kunnen leren over die twee onderwerpen. Ik heb gezien dat ik echt een beter mens ben geworden door deze onderwerpen te studeren en om te zetten. Ik probeer ze echt beter te ontwikkelen. Ik heb het gevoel dat ik door gebed een studie echt vooruitgang aan het maken ben. Ik ben heel dankbaar dat jullie als ouders mij zo ondersteunen en dat jullie als familie zo voor mij bidden. Ik hou echt veel van jullie en ik ben dankbaar dat ik jullie als familie mag hebben.

Dat was het weer van mij. Ik hou van jullie en ik bid iedere dag voor jullie.

Liefs,

Jeff

P.S. Was mijn nederlands goed? :D

21 September 2009

From St. Maarten to St. Kitts, Antiqua, St. Lucia, Trinidad and finaly Suriname.

My flight back to Suriname was quite the adventure. I flew from St. Maarten to St. Kitts and on to Antigua where I had a two hour lay-over. From Antigua the plane flew to St Lucia and then to Trinidad. When I arrived in Trinidad, the lady at the customs counter would not let me in the country. The couple had not given me any contact information of anyone in Trinidad, so I did not know who was coming to pick me up and who I was staying with. That information needs to be put on the entrance form, but I left it blank because I did not know what to do.

When I got to the immigrations counter the lady sitting there would not let me in. I told her that I did not intend to stay, but that I needed a visa to get to Suriname. I showed her the ticket and all of the information and that I was on my way to Suriname, but she would not let me in. She was quite rude, and sent me off back to the arrival hall. I had to wait there until she called me, which she didn't.

As if someone knew I was going to be in trouble, my very first companion, Elder Moala, who was going home and on his way to the mission home walked right past me in the arrival hall. I stopped him and asked him for the information that I needed and I was able to get in. It was great to see him. He should be home by now.

After one day in Trinidad, I was sent to Suriname at 9.30 pm. We arrived in Suriname after midnight. It was a long trip. I saw some members from the other area and they were so happy to see me and so was I. They were proud to report that the choir that we had started was still going well and that they had sung for District Conference. It is great to be back. I will be serving in Paramaribo South, which is close to my old area.

My new companion Elder Roepers is great. He has been on his mission for one transfer, and he is really motivated to work hard and to do his best. We should be having 2 baptisms on Saturday and a few more in the coming weeks. We have been teaching some great people that are ready to accept the gospel and get baptized.

Love, Jeff

19 September 2009

Come to Jesus



The Gospel of Jesus Christ is beautiful. If you ever wonder what those missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are teaching, please take the time and listen to their message. It will change your life for good. These missionaries are witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ and they invite all to come unto Him. Our son is currently serving in Suriname as a missionary. As parents we pray each day for his safety and that many people will listen to this glad message.

15 September 2009

Here I come again....

We had Zone Conference this last week. We had to fly off Island and go to Guadeloupe. It is a really nice island. It is part of France and because of that it looks a lot like France. The people only spoke French and they have a hard time understanding English, so we were not able to communicate too well with the people. Zone Conference was quite good. It was in French, but we had translation. However, I was able to understand quite a bit of what was being said.


At the end of Zone Conference President Gamiette told us about transfers. I found out that I will be going back to Paramaribo in Suriname. I will be serving with an elder named Elder Roepers from Holland. He has been on his mission for 6 weeks and I will be his second companion in the field. I have only met him briefly when I left for St. Maarten. As always it is hard to leave, and there are sort of mixed feelings. I hoped that I would be able to spend a little more time here, but I guess I am needed in Suriname. As far as I know I will be leaving on Wednesday.

Thank you for the package you sent to Trinidad. I was able to get it on Saturday. Thanks for that DVD. It really is a great documentary about President Monson. I enjoyed watching it.

This week we were not able to work in our area much, due to the fact that we were off island for a few days. We were able to have two investigators at Church on Sunday and the missionaries should be able to baptize them this coming transfer. I am in a way quite excited to see what my new area is like. I hope we will be able to help people get baptized.

We were not able to baptize anyone this transfer, but we did see success. We were able to help less active members of the church come back to church and help them stay. There is still a lot of work to be done in this area, but I am sure the missionaries that are coming will do a good job.

Well, I am about ready to get going. I still need to pack a few last things, but other than that I am ready to leave tomorrow or Wednesday, or as soon as I get a visa.

I love you all.
Jeff

07 September 2009

Then you're Caribbean!

This week was fine and we had some success, even though we will not be able to baptize during this transfer since the transfer is coming to an end and we do not have any baptism dates because people are not ready to commit. I know that missionary work is not only about baptisms, but it is also very rewarding to serve the people. I love this work.


The people in St Maarten are really nice people. I enjoy working with the members and they feed us well. :D People are always excited when I tell them that my dad is Dutch and my mother is from Aruba. They always say, "OH! Then you're Caribbean!"

I will have to keep this email short this week.

Love, Jeff

05 September 2009

The fence or the ambulance


The Fence or The Ambulance
by Joseph Malines - 1936

‘Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant:
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke and many a peasant;
So the people said something would have to be done.
But their projects did not at all tally:
Some said, "Put a fence around the edge of the cliff"
Some, "An ambulance down in the valley."


But the cry for the ambulance carried the day.
For it spread to the neighboring city:
A fence may be useful or not, it is true,
But each heart became brimful of pity
For those who had slipped o’er that dangerous cliff,
And the dwellers in highway and alley
Gave pounds or gave pence, not to put up a fence,
But an ambulance down in the valley.


"For the cliff is alright if your careful," they said,
"and if folks even slip or are dropping,
it isn't the slipping that hurts them so much
as the shock down below-when they're stopping,"
So day after day when these mishaps occurred,
Quick forth would the rescuers sally
To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff,
With their ambulance down in the valley.


Then an old man remarked, "it's a marvel to me
that people give far more attention
to repairing results than to stopping the cause,
when they'd much better aim at prevention.
Let us stop at its source all this mischief, cried he.
"Come neighbors and freinds, let us rally :
If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense
with the ambulance down in the valley."


"Oh, he's a fanatic." the others rejoined:
"dispense with the ambulance Never!
He'd dispense with all charities, too, if he could:
no, no! We'll support them forever.
Aren't we picking up folks just as fast as they fall?
And shall this man dictate to us? Shall he?
Why would people of sense stop to put up a fence?
While their ambulance works in the valley?"


But a sensible few who are practical too,
Will not bear with such nonsense much longer
They believe that prevention is better than cure
And their party will soon be the stronger
Encourage them, then with your purse, voice and pen
And (while other philanthropists dally)
They will scorn all pretense, and put up a stout fence
On the cliff that hangs over the valley.
______________________________________________________________

Our life is full of choices and it is not always easy to make the right choice, when the wrong choice seems to be so much easier to take and at times it might even be more attractive or easier. The easy road will take us nowhere. God gave us commandments and the Holy Ghost to stay on the right path. He warns us for danger and He will bless us when we make the right choice. If we make the right choice, we experience true happiness. Stay away from the edge of the dangerous cliff. Someone daid; "It is easier to prepare and to prevent, than to repair and repent."

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom shared the following words in a talk.

"Many of us want the simple way—the process that will not require serious work and sacrifice. Well, I once thought I found it. Driving in the back of a verdant valley above the city of Honolulu, I looked up, and there it was—Easy Street! As I was dreaming of the life-changing benefits of my discovery, I took out my camera to record the blissful moment. As I looked through the viewfinder, however, my focus literally and figuratively became clear. A large yellow sign returned me to reality—Easy Street was a dead end!

Procrastination may seem the easy way, as it momentarily removes the effort required to accomplish something of value. Ironically, in time, procrastination produces a heavy burden laced with guilt and a hollow lack of satisfaction. Temporal and, even more importantly, spiritual goals will not be achieved by procrastination."


I pray that each of us will notr slip from dangerous cliffs, but if you have slipped there is a way back that will lead you to safe ground. Jesus Christ atoned and died for all mankind and if we trust in Him and accept Him as our savior, keep His commandment, we will experience true happiness.

I invite all those that read this message to take the time and listen to our missionaries of the Chrurch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it will change your life.

-- A Missionary Dad --

Ps. we did not receive a message from our missionary son this week.

24 August 2009

We can all reach the finish line


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Derek Redmond was running in the 400-meter race in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. He already held the British record in this event. In the previous Olympics he had been forced to withdraw 10 minutes before the race because of an Achilles tendon injury. Now four years later he was here, ready to compete, determined to win a medal in the 400. His father was in the stands watching.During the semi-final heat, Redmond was only 175 meters away from the finish line, when his right hamstring suddenly popped and he fell to the ground. As all the other runners raced past him, Redmond knew that once again his Olympics dream had been snatched away from him. But Redmond was determined to finish the race, so he got back on his feet and started hobbling towards the finish line. He was in visible pain with each step, and it was unclear whether he could even make it.Suddenly, his father gets out of his seat and jumps onto the track, running around the security guards, and comes alongside his son on the track. He puts his arm around his son’s waist and encourages him to keep going. And as 65,000 people in the stadium rise to their feet in applause, father and son make their way around the track to the finish line together. Redmond did not win his Olympic medal. But with the help of his father, he finished the race.

One day each of us will cross the finish line. Will it likewise be to the cheers and encouragement of those we have loved and served? Hopefully it will be to the approbation of our Savior, who because of our faith and good works, will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Heavenly Father created a beautiful plan. He wants us to succeed and have joy in our life and become like Him, however he allowed us to experience trials in order to gain strength. Sometimes those trials can be painful. He wants us to reach the finish line and return back to him. If you ever wonder how you can gain that strength and reach that finish line, please visit with our missionaries. http://www.lds.org/

Our son Jeff is trying to help people in the West Indies understand the great plan of happiness that God created for us and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in its fullness. God has sent his Son Jesus Christ to redeem the World from sin and bless us with eternal life. We need to have faith and work hard to reach the finish line and if we cannot make it on our own, He will give us strength when we ask for it and Jesus Christ will be the finisher of our faith.
I like to thank all those people that support Jeff with letters and the local members in the West Indies for their love.

What did I get myself into?

Things are going really well here. The storms passed us by and are on their way to Barbados and other islands. All we got was a little rain and wind, but nothing too bad.

We were able to have a great week. We had 4 people at church and they liked it. We have some investigators that only speak French, but I do not speak French and neither does elder Muse. I decided that I was going to try and pick up some French from the little booklets about the restoration that we have in the apartment. When we went over to teach the people things turned out really well. We were able to communicate and they understood the message of the restoration. We also have a young man helping us. His name is Frantz and he is a little less-active. He is about 17 years old and speaks both English and French. Because we are working with him and he is helping us teach people he has started coming back to church. It is great to see how the Lord works and how people's lives are blessed through missionary work. I have seen people receive blessings and stronger testimonies because they have been doing missionary work. This includes me of course.

We will be having a talent show on Friday in which I will be playing piano. I will play a duet with Sister Oliver. Elder and Sister Oliver are the senior couple here on St Maarten. They are great people. Sister Oliver has a Ph.D. in Piano Performance. We played together yesterday and I thought it was horrible. I thought, "What did I get myself into?" She was able to read and play the music without any problem and I was trying to keep up while making so many mistakes. I was discouraged at first but then I realized that she has a Ph.D. and I do not, so I do not need to be as good as her. I will spend some time today to practice and everything will go well on Friday, I hope.

Well, that's about all for this week. All in all I really love St. Maarten. It is a beautiful place. The people are great.

Love,
Jeff

17 August 2009

We are prepared for the hurricanes


This week has been great. We were able to teach lessons with members present and many other lessons. It has only been our second week, but we are seeing great success in the area so far.

People are a little scared over here because they say that there is a tropical storm coming and that one was due this morning. We had a small storm in the middle of the night, but right now the weather looks fine. The people from the hurricane watch say that there is another tropical storm coming our way which is due thursday. The schools are closed today, and we were advized to fill up all of the bottles that we have with water just in case the water is cut off during the storm. I do not know much about storms or anything like that, but we bought enough food to last us a while and we have enough water to take care of ourselves. Who knows, this storm might just pass by. We'll have to wait and see what happens but we are prepared.

We were able to have 3 investigators at church and they all liked it. One of them is a referral that we got from a member and the other two are family members of a member. We were not really able to set any firm baptism dates with them, but they all felt good about the church and will be coming again. In total I would say that we had about 40 people at church, so it was not a bad week, but we can do a lot better. Elder Muse and I are working hard to get some less-active members back to church. We were able to have 3 people that we visited that are less active come back to church on sunday. It was great to see that our efforts are bringing forth results. I really hope we can help this branch grow.

Thank you for your prayers and your emails.

Love,

Jeff

10 August 2009

Message in a bottle arrived from St. Maarten

Travel distance from Suriname to St. Maarten is ~ 2,000 km (~1,200 miles)

We left Suriname on Wednesday morning. We arrived at the Paramaribo airport at 11:30 pm on Tuesday evening and waited for the new elders to come in. They then left us there to wait for our flight which was to leave at 6:30 am on Wednesday. Elder Muse, my new companion; Elder Jestice, a missionary that is finished with his mission; and Elder Ritchey, a missionary that was heading to the MTC to start his mission; and myself spent the night at the airport. It was not the most comfortable thing to do, but we managed.

We flew to Trinidad that morning, but we did not leave the airport. We had less than 2 hours in Trinidad. The other two elders left us there and Elder Muse and I flew on to Barbados. When we landed in Barbados we did not even get off the plane, so we did not see anything. That same plane then took us to Sint Maarten where after the the plane flew on to Jamaica.

St. Maarten is a nice island. The landscape is very dry, but there are plenty of beaches. As you can imagine the beaches are off-limits for us as elders except for baptisms. The people are really friendly. I have not been shouted at or anything like that yet. The people do not seem to care if you're white or not.

Elder Muse and I work on the Dutch side of the island. We have one half of the island as our area. The other half is being worked by Elder Butler and Elder Wright. They work the French half of the island. The interesting thing about all of this is that I have only met about 5 people that speak Dutch. None of the people on the street that we talk to speak Dutch. They either speak English, French, or Spanish. I don't speak French or Spanish, so when we contact someone on the street we try to tell them to come to church in whatever other languages we know. I tried inviting someone to church in very broken and rusty Italian, which seemed to work. :-)

The branch is great. There were not that many people there on Sunday, but we are visiting a lot of less active members and trying our best to get them back to church. We are hoping to find new investigators by working with the less actives. I have seen it work. We set a goal to baptize 2 people this transfer and I am confident about all of this. I think we can reach our goal if we work hard and do our best. The island has not seen many baptisms in a long time.

That's about all for now.

Love,
Jeff

04 August 2009

Wanica Bedankt!!!

Bij deze een groet van de andere kant van de Atlantische Oceaan
Lieve Broeders en Zusters,

Als ouders willen wij u hartelijk bedanken voor de steun en liefde die u onze zoon, Elder Vernes in de afgelopen maanden gegeven hebt. Hij schreef wekelijks over de lieve mensen in Wanica en was erg ontroerd om de gemeente te verlaten. Hij houdt erg veel van zijn broeders en zusters in Wanica.

Groetjes, Familie Vernes

03 August 2009

God be with you, till we meet again...


Well, I am being transferred and weill be going to St. Maarten this week.I am excited to go, but sad to leave. My companion will be Elder Muse from Texas. He is a good missionary and he is serving here in Suriname as well. He has been on his mission for a long time. He will be going home in two transfers, so it is great to be able to serve with him. I will be able to learn a lot from him.

I am sad to leave Wanica. The members have been so amazing and I feel that they have become close friends. I cannot wait for you to meet them when after my mission. Yesterday was one of the hardest Sundays on my mission. The day itself was good. Brother Siegfried got the priesthood and he is now a priest. He is doing well. The thing that made it hard was the fact that it was my last in Wanica.

It is great to know that when I leave, there will still be music because I was able to help Valerie Ritfeld with the piano. She has made so much progress and she has gotten so good at it. I think she plays the piano amazingly well.

I was able to bear my testimony and talk to them about the Book of Mormon I told them that I knew that the Book of Mormon was true. I asked them to read it and to find out for themselves. I told them that they are amazing members. I am amazed at their testimonies and their faith. At the end of the meeting the branch choir got up and sang "Israel, Hoor God Roept U Allen" (Israel, Israel, God is calling) for me in the most beautiful arrangement I have ever heard. You will not be able to find such singing anywhere in the world but here in the West Indies. The harmony was beautiful and they did a great job. I am grateful for the chance I had to work with them as a choir. I thanked them after the meeting. It was an emotional meeting for me.

After church we had one last choir practice together in which I made them promise that they would continue on their own after I leave. They said that they would and we spent some time singing together. I did not lead the music, but left it over to one of the members in the choir they sounded really well. At the end of the practice they sang "God Be With You, Till We Meet Again". It meant so much to me. I had to fight hard not to cry. Some of the members of the choir were crying as well. It is hard to say goodbye to such great friends.

We were invited over to President Druiventak's house for dinner yesterday. President and Sister Druiventak are amazing people. They have been to the temple and they are working on going again. I have been able to learn a lot from them. We are invited at the Tjong-A-Jong's house tonight. That's the man that called on father's day. He is an amazing man with and amazing family. And on Tuesday we will be going to the Ritfeld family to say goodbye. These people and many others have really become dear to me, I love them and I really will miss them. I hope to be able to get the chance to serve here in this area again. I told them all about my family and they cannot wait to meet my parents. I took a lot of pictures that I hope to be able to send soon.

That's about all for this week. I still need to do a lot of packing. I hope to finish it up today.

I do not know what information to give you for mail in St. Maarten yet, but I will let you know as soon as I know more.

Love,

Jeff

28 July 2009

There is no other way for true happiness!



Things have been a little slow this week, because my companion Elder Swart was sick. Sister Green, the mission nurse said that he had dengue. We were a little shocked about that because that usually means that we would be staying inside for more than a week. I was able to give him a blessing and I realized the power of the priesthood and faith. Within a few days we were outside again. Our numbers were not amazing because we did spend some days inside, but he is now healthy and ready to work again. I am very grateful for the priesthood in my life. I am grateful that I have always had a father that was worthy to use this sacred power.

We had a baptism this past weekend. A brother named Siegfried got baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. We were really excited for him to get baptized because he is a great guy. We were on the street one night and did not have anything to do for the last 30 min. The zone leaders told us to go out and contact some people. To be honest, I was a little discouraged because the only people out on the streets at night are drunk or make fun of us.

Well, I was wrong about that. Right before we were about to go inside I saw a man walking on our side of the road. He was walking right toward us. I decided that I was going to contact him and invite him to church, which we did. He said that he would try to make time. That's what everybody says, and then they do not come. He came, and now he's baptized. It's amazing how the Lord prepares people to receive the gospel.

I know that the gospel is the only way by which we can receive eternal happiness. There is no other way. I have realized that while out here on my mission. I am grateful for my savior Jesus Christ. I heard a story that really impressed me, but I do not have the time to write it up now, so I will send it in a letter this week.

I love you.

Jeff

20 July 2009

We consider you as family through the gospel

Thank you for the birthday wishes and you uplifting thoughts. This week has been great. We were able to have 3 investigators at church and one of them is getting baptized on Saturday. His name is ***. He came to church after we contacted him on the street three weeks ago. He liked it and wanted to learn more, so we continued to go by him and teach him about the gospel. After the first two lessons or so he wanted to get baptized. The members are great in welcoming people to church. They made him feel right at home the very first Sunday that he came. The members here are a great example to me.

Yesterday was a great day for me. We were woken up by a phone call from Brother Ritfeld, who called to wish me a happy Birthday. I thought that was really nice of him. We went to church and people kept coming wishing me a happy birthday and all of that. One of the Ritfeld’s even wrote me poem. It was a beautiful poem. I wanted to type it up and send it to you, but I forgot the poem at home, so it will have to come next week. After church we had choir practice and we sang a few nice pieces. When we were done the choir surprised me with a few Surinamese birthday songs. It sounded great! I love the local birthday songs. You should have been there to see it.

We were invited over to the Ritfeld family for dinner, which was a lot of fun. On our way there it started to rain like crazy. We got soaked. When we got there we were so wet and my shoes were filled with water. Sister Ritfeld had prepared an amazing meal for us. They are such a great family. They really take good care of us as missionaries. Brother Ritfeld said something that really touched me yesterday. He said, "If you were at home, you would be celebrating your birthday with your family. Because you are here on mission and you are far away from home we wanted to celebrate you birthday with you, because we consider you as family through the gospel. Through the Gospel we have become family." I would really want you to meet them. They are an amazing family. They then sang a bunch of birthday songs and one other song (I cannot remember the title of the other song right now) for me. When you come to pick me up, we will need to go visit them. They are preparing to go to the temple and it seems like they are doing everything to reach their goal.

Love,

Jeff

19 July 2009

Happy Birthday Elder Vernes

This young man was born on 19 July, 21 years ago. It was a day full of joy when we held him in our arms. During those 21 years, he surely enriched our life. We miss him dearly, but we know that he loves serving the people in the West Indies Mission and testify of Christ and the restored gospel.
Happy Birthday Son!

07 July 2009

I am now a sort of "old missionary"


I cannot believe that I am now a sort of "old missionary". This last year has flown by so fast, and I have seen so many amazing things. If time keeps on speeding up like this, I will be coming home soon. Time really flies. I have loved every moment of my mission so far. I have learned what it means to apply the atonement in my life. I have felt the guidance of the Holy Ghost. I have gained a stronger testimony of the reality of the Living Christ through the scriptures and through prayer. I have seen the power of the priesthood, and I have learned what it means to hold the priesthood. I would not trade all of this for anything. I feel that I have grown so much in the gospel. There is still so much to learn, which is why I look forward to serving my Savior a further year as one of his missionaries here in the West Indies.

This week was amazing! We were able to have a baptism and a confirmation, we had two people in church, and we found some sweet investigators (those where the two people at church). The person that got baptized is *****. He is a man of about 50 years of age and works as a security guard. He lives in the house of one of our members that is just amazing at teaching people about the Gospel. She tells everyone that comes to her house to change their lives and come to church with her, and people do! I like to think of it that she was able to get 4 people baptized! It's just amazing how strong she is.

The other amazing part of the story is that when ***** was going to get interviewed for baptism, one of sister Dollart's (the person he lives with they are roommates) friends was also there. We ended up talking to her and inviting her to church. She came!!! She even gave a testimony. She told the branch how she likes this church and how she wants to change her life and follow Christ. She stood there for 10 min. bearing testimony. It was one of the best Sundays on my mission.

The other person that came to church was a man that I approached on the street the night before. I did not think anything of it as I was talking to him. He did not seem very interested in anything I had to say. But then he shows up 10 min early for the meeting and he sits there sucking in every word that is spoken. He now wants to come again.

We have been really blessed this last week. I am grateful for all of these blessings. I know that blessings come when we work and rely on the Lord.

Mom and Dad, I am really grateful for your support and the love that you show me and always have shown me. I am grateful for your testimonies that and I could always rely on you. You two were always steadfast in the faith and I am thankful for that. I love you both.

I love all of you. Thanks again for your emails.

Love,

Jeff

30 June 2009

I am here to learn and to grow...

The fireside went really well. The people liked it and they were uplifted. The spirit was strong as Elder Swart spoke about the Creation and the Fall, and as I spoke about faith and belief. I split it up into 3 parts.

1. Believe in yourselves
2. Believe in God, Jesus Christ and the Atonement
3. Believe in work and doing good to others

Elder Swart talked for about one hour and then I finished it off in one hour as well. There were about 10 people there and they looked like they liked it. I shared storied from the Book of Mormon in Alma 46 and 47. I really enjoy reading those chapters and trying to see the reason they are in the Book of Mormon. I really learned that there is a reason for every verse in the Book of Mormon, so I am reading those chapters and trying to figure out the reason behind each one. There is so much we can learn from them.

They also asked me to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting and a lesson in Priesthood. In sacrament meeting I talked about keeping the commandments and in Priesthood I talked about the talk that was given in the Priesthood session of General Conference in October by President Uchtdorf "Lift Where You Stand".

As I have been on my mission I am coming to understand what it means to hold the Priesthood and what it means to use it and the duties that come with it. I have spent a lot of time learning about the Priesthood in Zone Conferences and in personal studies. I sort of wish I had learned these things before my mission. I could have been more effective as a deacon, teacher, and Priest; and even as an Elder. There are some things that I should have done better before my mission, and that I could have done better before my mission had I understood the doctrine of the Priesthood. But I guess that's why we're here - to learn and to grow.

I cannot believe how fast time has flown. Time seems to fly by faster every day. It will have been one year on Wednesday since I entered the MTC. I have learned so much during this past year. It has been amazing. I just hope that this next year on my mission will be even better.

Thank you again for you emails and your support. I love you and hope all is well with you.

Love,

Jeff

29 June 2009

A year ago....



A year ago on Monday morning, we drove to the Frankfurt Int. Airport to say good-bye to our missionary. It was a moment filled with mixed emotions. We were sad to say good-bye, but at the same time full of joy that he went on his mission to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in the West Indies Mission. As parents, we feel very blessed to have such a great son.
He entered the MTC on his mom's birthday, July 1, 2008.
In this picture below you see Jeff, Pieter, Amy and Annelies. His older sister Whitney was attending EFY in Denmark that week.

24 June 2009

Some trials...

This week has been ok for us. We had a few problems because Elder Swart had to stay in for one day because he was not feeling well. He's doing better now, so we can go back to work. We were able to teach 16 lessons and we had 3 people at church. They liked it and they seem like they are progressing toward baptism.

The branch choir sang in sacrament meeting yesterday and it did not go very well. I was not conducting. Instead I was singing tenor with another person. When we stared you could only hear alto and tenor. The sopranos were very quiet. I don't know what was going on. All of the choir members were disappointed that it turned out so bad. I told them that things like that happen sometimes, and that we would do better next time. They really were very disappointed and they did not like it at all. I think that it's great because it shows that they are taking the music we do seriously. They really want it to sound well, and they practice hard to achieve their potential. I really enjoy working with them. They are all very good people. It looks like I will be staying in this branch at least until august. I am excited about that. I really like it here.

Elder Swart and I will be holding a fireside on Saturday. Elder Swart will be talking about the creation and the fall, and I will be talking about faith. I have some good scriptures that I found while reading the Book of Mormon. I started over and I am already in Jarom. I started last week. I am reading at least 10 pages a day. I had a head start because I read for most of the afternoon when elder Swart was sick. I am glad that we have the scriptures.

That's about all for this week.

Love,

Jeff

16 June 2009

The work is moving forward!

Thank you for your emails this week. They were very uplifting and inspiring. Dad, thank you for sharing your final talk and testimony as Bishop. You were a great Bishop and I am also thankful for the service you provided to me during those 8 years as my bishop. I wish you all the best with your new calling. Mom, I enjoy reading your spiritual thoughts every week. They are great.

The pain in my mouth has gotten considerably less this week. It is bearable when I brush my teeth and it does not hurt during the day any longer. I am thankful for your prayers and for the power of prayer in general. I know that prayers are heard and answered. I am grateful for my Savior that makes that possible.

I finished reading the Book of Mormon last week and I am starting over again putting my focus on the atonement. I have learned so much from reading the Book of Mormon and I am grateful for the guidance it provides in life and for the truths that it teaches. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that it brings us closer to God and His Son Jesus Christ that any other book. In my studies I learned that the Book of Mormon is the most powerful resource for conversion, and that missionaries or anyone teaching the Gospel should "persuade people to read and pray" about the Book of Mormon, so that they can gain a testimony of its truthfulness for themselves. Once they gain that testimony they will want to read the Book of Mormon again and again. I do not know how family scripture study is going at home, but I hope you do it often. I honestly believe that the Book of Mormon has the answers to all of the questions of the soul.

The week in general was quite successful. We were able to find 11 new investigators and teach 26 lessons. We also found one young woman that is really motivated and she wants to learn. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she was reading 3 Nephi 11 before we had even left the house. When we came back on Sunday she had read it twice and started reading a different chapter. We hope this excitement will continue and that she will accept the gospel of Jesus Christ in her life.

The work is moving forward! It is great to see how people change their lives. It is great to see how the spirit enters their lives as they make and keep commitments and strive to make covenants with our Heavenly Father. That's what it is all about. It is about making covenants with God that help us apply the Atonement in our lives. Everything we do in the church, every covenant we make, every scripture we read points to the atonement. I realized this and the importance of it when Sister Ritfeld shared her amazing testimony yesterday.

That's about all from me for this week. Thanks again for your prayers and support. I love you.

Jeff

09 June 2009

I love them...

We had a good week. We were able to have a baptism on Saturday and the confirmation on Sunday. The girl we baptized has a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel.

Well, yesterday we had our last zone conference with president and sister Robison's. It was great to hear from them. They are such great people and I am thankful for the things I was able to learn from them. The spirit was strong at zone conference, and my testimony grew. They are great people and they want to stay in touch with the missionaries they served with. They requested that we bring our future wife by their house for approval :D. I love them and I am grateful for the service that they performed for us.

President Robison held a fireside on Sunday and our branch choir was asked to sing at the fireside. They did really well. I was amazed at how well they did. We sang beautiful savior in three parts. They asked me to lead them. It is so much fun teaching them how to sing. I am just teaching them the things I learned while singing with Vocalis and while leading the ward choir. A lot of the people that were present at the fireside came up to me later and told me that it sounded amazing and that I do a good job.

That's about all for this week. I am excited, we should have a good week. I love all of you. Thanks again for your prayers and your letters.

Love,

Jeff

25 May 2009

I say it again, I love this branch!

I am doing well. This week was great. We were able to have 6 investigators at church and we were able to set a few baptism dates. I told you about the sister that just walked into the building and wanted to get baptized last week, right? Well, she is making progress and she is still very motivated. She only speaks Saranan-Tongo which makes it a little more difficult for me to communicate with her, but Elder Swart does great. I am still learning the language, and I am slowly getting the hang of it.

She is really committed to keeping the commandments and she wants to get baptized. She really is a golden investigator.

I think I have already said that I really love this branch, but I'll say it again, "I love this branch!" The people are just amazing! They do a lot of the work for us. The sister that I mentioned above came to church, and we needed someone to sit by her during Sunday School. I went up to one of the Ritfeld girls and asked her if she could sit by her and help her during the class. She said that she would and it turned out to be great. Later that day I called her to thank her for what she did, and she simply said, "Niets te danken, It's part of my job." I was so impressed with that statement that it ran through my head for the rest of the day. She was right. It is part of our job as members of the church to fellowship others and helps them come closer to Christ. If all of the members of the church acted like the Ritfeld family do, we would see so much success as missionaries around the world.

Another example is this; we went to the Ritfeld's house after church planning to stay only a few minutes to ask them about an investigator that is related to them. We ended up sharing a lesson with that investigator, and getting great meal that sister Ritfeld was preparing. Sister Ritfeld said a prayer to bless the food, and in that prayer she said, "Wij zijn zo dankbaar dat de zendelingen bij ons kunnen zijn..." ("We are so grateful to have the missionaries here...") I realized again how blessed we are to be able to work with families like them. Families that are grateful for the work that we do. We can always count on them to help out with investigators in church or to come out teaching with us.

We are going to hold a fireside tomorrow. I will be talking about the atonement while my companion Elder Swart will be doing a practical lesson and the branch mission leader will share his testimony on the atonement and missionary work. I am excited to give this lesson and I hope that the members will be uplifted in their faith in Christ because I know that the atonement is real, and that we can receive so much joy by applying it to our lives. This truly is the work of the Lord, and none can stop the work from progressing.

Love,

Jeff

23 May 2009

My Shepherd Will Supply My Need


Please stop the MP3-player before watching this video

When Elder Vernes was 15 years old, his Bishop called him as the Ward Organist for the Frankfurt International Ward in Germany. He played the piano, but the organ was a new challenge that he was willing to take. In the beginning, we experienced some funny moments as he played the organ very loud or too fast. But he soon was able to manage this instrument with the footwork.

His Russian Piano teacher was quite impressed how he played the organ and asked him if he was willing to play the organ in her evangelic church during their Sunday meetings. He was promised to make some money. :-)

Some years later Jeff was also called as the ward choir director and he loved to direct the ward choir. The first music piece the choir sang was "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need".

Now that Jeff is serving a mission in the West Indies, each time when Annelies and I hear this beautiful piece of music, we get emotional and can picture our son conducting. The words of this song is so powerful and beautiful. I hope you will also enjoy it.

18 May 2009

Laat uw Lampen Helder Lichten

Let you light shine
Things are going well with me. We had a good week. We were able to get 3 people to church this last week and they liked it. We are hoping to baptize this next week. There is a sister that just decided that she would come to church. We had not even met her before and she just walked in and wanted to get baptized. She is really excited about the gospel and she wants to really change her life around.

The branch choir sounds amazing! They sang Beautiful Savior in three parts and it sounded great. They look at me when they sing, they listen to each other, and they really make the piece sound good. We are planning on singing that piece in sacrament meeting in two weeks. We have also started a new piece. In Dutch it is called "Laat uw Lampen Helder Lichten" (174 in the Dutch hymn book) or something like that.

Elder Swart is great. He is a good missionary and he is a hard worker. We are really planning on success this next transfer. I have already learned a lot from him in this one week. He really is a good missionary.

It was great to hear from you and feel your love. Thank you for writing me and supporting me. Congrats on the half marathon, mom. It sounds like you did really well. I do not think that I could have done it, right now.

Love, Jeff

11 May 2009

It is amazing how much my Heavenly Father loves me...

It was great to talk to you yesterday. It was nice to hear all of your voices. I cannot believe that it has already been 10 months. Pretty soon I will have been out on my mission for one year. Time really flies when you're having fun.

Jeff told us that his companion Elder Croese will be transferred this week and his new companion is Elder Swart. Elder Swart dad is a good friend and we both served a mission at the same time. He went to South Africa and I went to Ireland. It is amazing how the next generation of missionaries are coming together. He really enjoyed working with Elder Croese since February this year. They worked well together and will be friends for life.

I guess that everything I could have written today was said yesterday over the phone. There was not too much that happened between yesterday and today.

The one thing that I really did want to say is that I know that God protects his missionaries. Elder Croese and I were on the road just after leaving an appointment. We were riding our bikes on the bike path next to a really busy road called "Pad van Wanica". Scooters and Motorcycles ride on this bike path as well.

Most of them ride amazingly fast and reckless, too. Anyway, Elder Croese and I were riding along on this road talking about this investigator that we just taught a lesson to, whom, by the way, is preparing to get baptized in two weeks, when we decide to get some money out of the ATM at a local gas station.

Just as we turned away from the ATM, we could hear a loud "POOOOW" and breaks screeching and I see a man flying over the hood of a car and hit the ground. After a moment of silence he starts screaming because of pain. I looked over to him and see that his leg was literally cut in half only hanging by some skin and other tissue.

We couldn't really do anything and there were so many people around him in seconds trying to take a look that we decided to go to the police station down the road and get help. To make a long story short the police came and paramedics came to take control of the situation.

I was thinking about how often these scooters were so close to where I was and realized that they never hit me, when the situation almost predicted a collision. I know that we are protected by hosts of angels every day. It is amazing to see how much my Heavenly Father loves me.

I do not know what happened to that man but I hope that he is alright. I am thankful for the Lord’s protection.

Love, Jeff

10 May 2009

Those where the days...


It has been a few years when I took this picture of our son Jeffrey and his Mom. In the mean time, Elder Vernes is quite a bit taller than Annelies and me. By the way AnnelĂ­es did change her glasses a couple of times since that picture :-) I just love to watch this picture of those two and realize how fast the years are passing by.

Today is mother's day and we look forward to talk to our son who started his mission more than 10 months ago in the West Indies Mission. We were so excited when we heard about his mission call. Annelies was born in the West Indies on a the island Aruba and also lived with her family in Curacao.

Our son's first area was Guyana and he moved in February to Suriname. He loves the people and his missionary service. It is great to be in the service of our fellow man!

As his dad, I just want to thank everybody for your great support and interest.

04 May 2009

You need to add a maggi block, pepper and salt...

Our week was great. We taught a lot of lessons and we saw a lot of success. We were able to find many new people that are interested to learn more about the gospel and were able to teach 33 lessons. We are seeing success as we plan and also come up with backup-plans and things like that.

Well the branch I am in is very small. There are about 40 people that come every week, but there are over 200 members on the records. The members of the branch are amazing. They have strong testimonies and they are really doing their best to help us out. There are a few strong families that make a difference.

There's the Druiventak family. President Druiventak is the branch president. He and his wife are just great. President Druiventak comes and works with us about every Thursday, and Sister Druiventak works with us when we ask her to. They are just such strong members.

Then there is the Ritfeld family. They are also amazing! One of the daughters is taking piano lessons from me every week and she learns so fast. When we first started she couldn't really read the left hand notes, but now she can play "Come Follow Me" with both hands at normal tempo. She also knows chords very well. She picks up the things very fast and I try to teach her as much as possible. The entire family comes to choir practice each week, and they are among the people that have the nicest voices in the branch. Brother Ritfeld improvises when we sing the hymns and it sounds really good.

Those are just two of the many families that are the strength of the branch. Then there is Lucien. He's the branch mission leader and in the elder's quorum presidency. He is such a great missionary. When he comes out with us he talks to everyone. He teaches great lessons and he is very motivated. He is always talking about missionary work. When there is an issue to be discussed in PEC he always turns it to missionary work and baptism as well as Less-Active work. He says, “Conversion and repentance is a process. It's like cooking chicken. You don't just dump chicken in water and boil it. That's not enough. You need to add a maggi block, pepper and salt. Only then will you have a great meal."

As for the branch choir, they are great. We are working on "Beautiful Savior" and the medley. They sang "Beautiful Savior" in a three part harmony yesterday, which sounded amazing!


Please stop the MP3 Player first before watching this video

Things are going really well. We have some baptism dates that are looking good for the next few weeks. I really hope that I can help the members in this branch. I must say that this is my favorite branch so far as well as my favorite area.

My mouth is doing fine. It is not aching anymore. The doctors here gave me medication and everything is fine.

That's about all for this week.

Love,

Jeff

27 April 2009

They all gave great testimonies.

Thank you for your letters again.

I was happy to hear from you all. This week went quite well. We baptized three wonderful people this week, which brings the number of people I was able to baptize up to 23 and it is such a joy when you see people receive a testimony and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ in their life. These people were my first baptisms in Suriname. I really think that Elder Croese and I were really blessed for all the work we do together.

It was a great baptismal service. There were a lot of members at the service, which was great. It really showed the newly baptized converts that the members love and care about them. Andrea and her children bore their testimonies at the end of the meeting. They all gave great testimonies. It was just a great meeting with a wonderful spirit.

Well, the choir sang in sacrament meeting on Sunday. They did really well and the sounded very nice. We are now practicing two new pieces (Beautiful Savoir and a medley that I brought from home with The Spirit of God and We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet.) They are really making a lot of progress and they seem to like coming to choir practice.

We also had some bad luck with our bikes this week. Elder Croese's bike broke down. His rear wheel gave up the ghost. I do not really know what happened, but he ended up buying a new rear wheel. It took us a while to get it repaired, but we succeeded! :-)

Besides the little challenges with our bikes, things are going well. Well, that's about all that I have for today. Thank you for your support and your prayers.

Love,
Jeff

26 April 2009

The Power of Prayer

Please stop the MP3 Player first before watching this video

20 April 2009

That made me smile...

Dear Family,

This has been a really great week. We had three investigators at church again, and they are getting baptized on Saturday. They are really excited about all of this and they are looking forward to getting baptized. The Branch President is just as excited about it because it means that there will be new members in the branch to get the other members excited about missionary work and retention. I think that these new converts will be able to have great influence on the other members of the branch.

I was asked to give a talk yesterday. I talked about the Atonement, Missionary work, and the sacrament. The talk was not planned, but they did not have a third speaker, and they asked me to talk. I think it went well. People came up to me telling me that it was a great talk.

We also had a great little choir practice yesterday. We will be singing on Sunday. They will be singing and I will be playing the piano, while one of the members will be conducting. We're doing "Praise Ye The Lord". They sing it really well.

Elder Croese and I have been listening to his MP3 player a lot. He has BYU Devotionals on it and talks from other General Authorities given on different occasions. While I was listening to some of them I couldn't help but think how cool it would be to sit there in a BYU Devotional every week and listen to a General Authority speak. :D

It makes me very happy to hear that you got my letters. I thought it was funny. Amy wrote to me today that she made mac and cheese. She just did not write it in that way. She wrote, "mama hat mir beigebracht wie man mc and roni and cheese macht." That made me smile...mc and roni and cheese :D

I love all of you.

Jeff

15 April 2009

I was so amazed at the sound of that little choir

Thank you for your emails. I am, doing great. We went to the dentist this morning and things are going well. Elder Croese just got a package from his parents and oma and opa put some things in there for me too. Could you thank them for me? I don't know when my letter will get there. I will write them again to thank them for the things that they sent.

We had Zone Conference yesterday. It was great. President Robison told us of some experiences that he had as a missionary in France with Elder Anderson (The new apostle) He told us that we do not know now what will happen to us and our companions in 30 years. "There might just be a few general authorities in this room", he said. It was a great Zone Conference. The spirit was very strong. We learned a lot about covenants and commitments and effective planning. We learned that We need to do everything we can to help people come unto Christ.


Elders Kempenaer, Vernes and Koenen

Elders Kinghorn, Mecham, Croese and Vernes

President Robison spoke in our branch on Sunday. They asked me to translate for him. It was not the easiest thing to do. I had to translate for him and his wife from Dutch into English and then when he spoke from English into Dutch. Translating really is not that easy. You have to really focus on the things that are being spoken and on the meaning of those things, so you can get the message across. They were thankful for it.

They were also able to speak to the girl that takes piano lessons from me every week. They were very impressed with the talent that she has. Sister Robison asked me to get their conversion story and email it to her. The Ritveld family is one of the strongest families in the branch. Their daughters run all of the music in the branch. One of them leads the music the other plays the piano and all of them show up for voice lessons and choir practice. I was able to teach the choir how to sing in a harmony last week. It took about one hour, but it worked. I was so amazed at the sound of that little choir of 6 relief society sisters and 3 brethren from the Elders quorum.


The work is going better. We were able to find 9 new investigators and we had 3 people at church. These three people have firm dates to get baptized on the 24th of April.

President Robison asked me how I liked Suriname. I told him that I am having a great time here. I really do love it here. The people are amazing. The branch is great. We are trying to get people excited about missionary work. President Robison emphasized that in his talk. He gave a great talk.

Thank you for your prayers and your letters and emails.

I love all of you.

Jeff