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.



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.



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.


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.