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.



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.