Sunday, April 17, 2016

Last Letter from Hemana! 1 week and she will be home!

Hello!
Well this weeks has been amazing! We loved General Conference! I've learned so much this past week from all of the apostles that I'm not going to have time to write it all down (that and we showed up a little late to the internet because I'm visiting areas today haha). Anyway today was super nice! We went to La Union and visited all of my homies there! Everyone is doing so great! There are two of my old investigators there that are getting baptized so fingers crossed that I can get to go before I head out! 
This weeks has been filled with a lot of funny moments as well. For example, we had intercambios and that night I spent with Hna. Macias, in the middle of the night she woke up screaming, turned the fan off, and went to bed. Little to say, didn't sleep at all that night. Then we found this crazy huge catipillar (pics attached), and later contacted a lady who DOES NOT believe in the resurecction. We didn't have too much time to talk to her so we set up an appointment for the next week. You know what her name is? RESURECCION hahaha! How ironic! 
In total this week has been so fun! I'm so grateful to be a missionary! I've learned so much and am continuing to learn everyday. 
LOVE YOU LOTS! 
Your SISTA
Hermana Van Woerkom 

FINAL LETTER AS HERMANA VAN WOERKOM! 
Can't wait to have her home!!!


Hey everyone,
It´s really weird to think this will be the last email I will be writing you as a missionary. I remember my first time opening this email up and getting so excited to know that my call was assigned and on the way to the house. Now 18 months have come and now I´m wrapping things up here in the Dominican Republic. I don´t really know what to say in this last email, I kinda feel pressured haha my last council before I come home, hopefully it´s good haha. 
For starters the mission definitely wasn´t what I thought it was made out to be. All I can really say is being in the mission the months are short, the weeks are shorter, and the days are SOOOO LONG!  Honestly there are days you think the mission is never going to end, but I´ve loved every second of it! I would have never had an opportunity like this where I could have changed and grown so much, in such a short amount of time. I´ve had a little of every thing.....difficult areas, amazing wards, difficult branches, hard companions, great companions, nice apartments, and apartments that I´ve had to share with the critters of the DR. All of this has changed me and my outlook on life. 

During my first couple transfers in the mission it was a little hard. I had no idea how to speak the language, I had two hands and two feet to use to serve others, until I broke one of my feet, and then I just felt very defeated. When we had interviews with President Douglas, I asked for a blessing. In it he blessed me with the opportunities that would help me learn and grow in the way to help me know who I am, and who I could become. And gave me the counsel to listen to the Holy Ghost. 
Looking back I can definintely seen the fruits of following that counsel. One quote that I´ve taken to heart says, ¨when we open up to the spirit we learn God´s will, however, our resistance to the spirit diminishes our progress¨. In order for God to changes us we have to be willing and accepting of his counsel. I´ve learned that we gain nothing if we don´t choose to change. We aren´t going to progress, we aren´t going to be better, we are simply just hurting ourselves. BUT if we do make that choice, God can change us from the ¨cottage¨we are to that ¨temple¨he wants each of us to be. He does that through the Holy Ghost. I can honestly say if you ask God how you can change he will definitely show you your weak points and gives you those promptings through the Holy Ghost. And boy have I found out that it works! The Holy Ghost doesn´t beat around the bush and will tell you honestly and bluntly how you can change haha! But the amazing thing is he works with us at our own speed and if we choose to better ourselves we become so much more of what our Heavenly Father wants us to be. 
From the beginning I honestly thought that the mission was to change the lives of others, and it is, but I´ve come to realize that it´s changed me. Of course it´s changed me physically, I´m more crusty haha, you can see all my awkward tan lines, the bags under my eyes, the battle wounds with the thorn bushes, and the scars from my blood doing services to the mosquito. But what I now see and hopefully others will be able to see as well is how much more I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior. How much I´m striving to be a more devoted disciple. 

Even though the plack is coming off, I can´t and hope I will never go back to the person I was before the mission. I wasn´t a terrible person, but I wasn´t the person sometimes I could have or should have been. It´s bitter sweet having to end my calling, but I´m looking forward to continue demonstrating my love for my Savior and Heavenly Father through my future callings. And definitely looking forward to coming back as a senior missionary when I´m old and wrinkly!!  

Again I am so grateful for this opportunity I´ve had to see other´s through Gods eye´s, to have been able to be an instrument in this great work, and to have shared the truths that I now know without a doubt are true.
Love you all and see you.....well next week!
HERMANA VAN WOERKOM
 

Second to the last letter

Well family,
the p days keep flying by! This letter is going to be a little short because I´m up in Puerto Plata today visiting all of the members and recent converts here! It has been soo nice! It´s crazy to see all the changes that has happened not only to the area, but to the people as well! The less actives that we have taught have now been reactivated and have gotten their mission calls all around the world! How amazing is that! The members here are still as strong as ever and continue helping move this missionary work forward. We got to visit some of my favorite members here. We ended at the house of MariLuz where we had lunch with my old comp who I trained, who is now training her new companion! The posterity keeps going haha! Wow but really the more I´m here in this area the more it´s making it hard to come home! I didn´t think that could ever be possible! I mean of course you´ve known that Puerto Plata has been by far my favorite area, but it´s just been really tough to say goodbye. I´ve had to hold back the tears more than once or twice! But, I´ve made the promise that I would come back with my family the next time I came. Which they were super happy about, but I think that was more for me to make me feel better than for them haha. Really I am so grateful for the experience I had here in Puerto Plata, I wouldn´t trade it for the world. Well nows my time to sign off, but talk to you next week! 
Love,
Hermana Van Woerkom




Wednesday, March 23, 2016

3-23-16

And another P'day bites the dust,
Well this week was jam packed full of fun! We started off the week with a zone meeting and discussed what we could do to better our areas and strengthen them. We also had a conference with Elder Cornish of the seventy who helped explain to us the escalater of success as missionaries. Inbetween the meeting we had a lunch where he asked to sit with my companion and I, and a couple other sisters that were with us! He was super helpful and nice!
Then after that we had a trip to the hospital. Don´t panick, it wasn´t for me this time, it was for my companion. But don´t worry it was just a check up for her and everything is fine. By the way, I did wear green last week so that´s why nothing happened. Remember last St. Patricks day in the mission I broke my foot. Haha oh the memories. Anyway the fun thing about that is I got to play translator because the doctor didn´t know what her symptoms were and my comp didn´t know how to explain it. Well cool thing is now I have new vocabulary that might come in handy one day!
And the highlight of the week BY FAR. I SAW A DASCHUND! We were walking up to a less actives house and out of the blue I see this weener dog walking around and of course I had to take a picture to represent the herritage! I asked the owner what his name was and naturally she was in her thick accent ´hot dug´ HAHAHA. Too funny, but yes we connected hotdog and I.
Well I´m super stoked for Womens Conference this week! Even more so for EASTER! What better way to celebrate the Savior than on the mission testifying of him and having the opportunity to be a representative of Him. Love you all and have a great week!
Hermana Van Woerkom

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March 12, 2016

Hey everyone,
Well nothing to crazy has happened this week. Just getting into the swing of things again with the new comp. I guess I forgot to explain that I talk in my sleep because apparently when she went up to go to the bathroom I sat up in bed and said "okay, tell me what happened." haha oh man. She got a good kick out of it.
Well this week we've been hitting the ground running contacting and helping establish things a bit more here before I leave. We have 3 baptisms set up here before I leave!! And I have one baptism in my old area. Unfortunately I won't be able to go to it because it's the same day as one of the baptisms we've set up.
Anyway it's been really interesting seeing people changing over these past weeks. For some of our investigators, even the members it's been anything but easy. I got to read a talk by one of the apostles and found this lovely quote that says, "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes to rebuild that house. What on earth is he up to? The explanation is he is building quite a different house than what you had planned." As missionaries we set goals, and invite people to act EVERY SINGLE DAY. It's almost like mini new years eve goals haha mostly in the way that people accept the challenge and never do them. But, that's because sometimes we get caught up being comfortable. We like where we are and we are happy with the "cottage" of a house that we've built in our lives. BUT one thing very important is we need to give up OUR idea of who we want to be and submit to the will of the Father. That is when he will turn our living house into a mansion, a perfect temple of the Lord. Sounds really nice, but it's not easy, there's walls that have to be demolished, things taken out, things put in, but as we accept these promptings to change, he can make us more glorious, and more perfect than we could ever be.
LOVE YOU ALL
Hermana Van Woerkom


WOW
I just met my murderer! Just like Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Carribbean movie I´ve been given the black mark! Last transfer what happened with the time! Well my companion is my 2nd step daughter! Her name is Hermana Robinson from Jamaica. Yes mom and dad, when I heard her name I automatically thought of the song by Simon and Garfunkel ¨here´s to you misses Robinson¨haha. Anyway things are going to be good here, I´m still kicking!
Well I´m going to write you a looonnnggg letter to compensate for last week! My B sorry for that! Okay funny stories! So Monday night, I slept talked to my companion! I like apparently sat up really quick and said in Spanish, ¨Hey I think someones in the house!¨ Definitely freaked out my companion to say the least! haha wow so embarrassing! Anyway she couldn´t sleep the rest of the night and I slept, like a rock! haha. 
Okay as for area wise we have had to change Olga´s baptismal date for the end of this month due to the Canal breaking! We are O U T of water here! We get water trucked in to us each week. They say that the canal will be fixed in 2 months. Lets hope sooner than later. Anyway that´s a no go for the baptism because we have no water to fill up the font. She is also having some problems with her family she needs to take care of and feels stressed and unprepared. So we are still working with her!
We are also working with some less actives as well! Before I tell you about them I have to tell you an interesting story I´ve learned for the week. So we went to a recient converts house and shared a message with her. During the lesson there was an empty box of what I thought was trash, because there is just a lot of trash here in this area. Anyway after the closing prayer Geresly began to say she didn´t know what to do and pointed to the box. When I peaked inside I found the tiniest little bird. It was the cutest thing and it fell out of the palm tree and they can´t stick it back up because it´s too high. So they are trying to take care of it. Any way fast forward to the next day. We had a reference of a lady who is less active. So we were trying to find her house, found it, and when she came out she did a double play and then invited us in. She was so surprised to see us! When we talked about the people there and those we reactivated and come back to church she was so surprised and said, wow I guess everyone is back to church. The only one that is lost is me. AH! So we shared with her that she isn´t lost and that we miss her and want her to come back. So how does this apply to the bird you might ask. There definitely is a gospel principle. Just like the box, I though nothing of it and did










n´t know what was inside and just thought it was trash. But in Luke we read that God knows and counts every sparrow so how much more does he know where we are in our life and how we feel. Heavenly Father knew where this less active was and gave us the opportunity to help her. I know that God watches over us and we are not forgotten. 
LOVE YOU TONS
Hermana Van Woerkom

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Feb. letters

Hey,
Wow this week has gone by super fast! It feels like I just wrote ya´ll yesterday! Well nothing new is happening here in Villa Gonzalez. Things are just very calm here in the countryside. We are working hard on the less actives here! Some of the sisters have helped us by coming to appointments. It´s all about the fellowshipping really! Speaking of that´s probably what the main theme of this week has been. Having charity for others. My companion as well as my old comp, and I have been going through really really rough trials these past couple weeks and it´s been really hard seeing them struggle. During one of my personal studies I got to read the talk by elder holland called, Are We Not All Beggars. In it, he explains that we all go through various trials in life, but essentially our purpose it to help those around us and forget about ourselves. It says in the scriptures, ¨For whosoever will save his life shall lose it. and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it¨. Our purpose is to forget about our needs and wants and lose ourselves in the service of others. I can testify that it´s soo true! Elder Holland closes with, √§lthough we aren´t our brothers keeper, we are our brothers brother, and because we have been given much we too must give¨. 
I´m so grateful for the opportunity I have to strengthen my companions in the mission and have their support and strength as well. I hope that we all can take on that challenge to forget ourselves and just go to work. 
Love you all
Hermana Van Woerkom 








Hey everyone,
Well before I tell you the news of the week let me start out asking WHO FORGOT ME IN THEIR PRAYERS THIS WEEK!  Before I tell you what happened lets take a walk down memory lane. Well we all know that when I get sick I go HARD! First incident of the mission, broken foot, the sicknesses that followed are- the double headed dragon or throw up and...well the other thing lol..... after the double ear infection, followed by the bronchitis incident, and now. Well I thought I would be done and have my fair share of sicknesses BUT what better way to end the mission than getting the DANG DENGUE! 
It´s been miserable to say the least, but keeping my head up and plugging along! You just have to laugh you really do. They are taking some more tests to make sure that my platelets are going up because they´ve been down. So as I´ve been going in and out of sleep, laying in bed I´ve been thinking about musicals and after getting halled in to the clinic they gave me papers that had a number and we´ve just been filing in and out so I´ve had moments where I´ve felt like a poor Jean Valgean and was a number staus for a while haha. But, it´s all good I know that I´ve got a name right haha.I do have to say I did feel like the room was full of Javer´s because we were on the justice status up in their NO MERCY! It was poking and prodding with needles. I definitely wanted my Lindsey! I kept telling them please go for this vein! And then they´d ask why and I had to tell them my sister is a nurse and says it´s really good, they´d just roll their eyes and do it haha. I needed my sissy! Anyway I´m trying to fight it off, it´s just been really draining! 
Other than that I´ve been trying to see the tender mercies of it as well. Well first off I´M ALIVE haha for now. No We have a baptism this Saturday so I´m trying to hold out for it. It´ll be amazing, and I´m hoping the members will support. YOU BEST BE SUPPORTING YOUR MISSIONARIES IN YOUR WARDS! We have another date set for march and an investigator in my old area set his baptism 2 days before I go home! Way to end the mission right? 
Shout out to Lonnie! That´s too funny that she had the baby on a Pday! Good planning! haha! I can´t wait to see my new little niece! WELCOME TO THE FAMIMLY COLETTE! Love you already and your FAV AUNT ill be home soon! 
Love you all,
Hermana Van Woerkom

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Feb. 3, 2016

Hi everyone!
Well, this week has been full of growing experiences. I´m slowly, but surely trying to learn the area, the investigators, and less actives. I´m in a branch again which is interesting, very very different from my first experience with the branch in Bonao. We definitely walk a lot here! Villa Gonzalez is 45 minutes away from Santiago, next to a pretty mountain range. Most of the people we teach, as well as members work on the farms here. This area is known for their nice, green, TOBACCO haha. So it´s a definite change from all of my other areas. With all of the rows and rows of tobacco fields we pass, it wouldn´t suprise me if this little town didn´t supply all of the DR. But like I said, I love the area here. We do a lot of walking which is something that I´ve missed compared to my last teenie tiny area. 
I´m starting to get to know the members and they are very sweet. We apparently get fed every Sunday, which isn´t the norm in the mission. And now we just need to get them excited to go out a little more with us, but this week we have gotten the support of the YW as well as an RM. 
As for the investigators here I´ve run into a first which is we are teaching many spouses who one of them wants to be baptized and married while the other just doesn´t want to be married. BAH! And they have all lived together for 20 plus years! There are a couple as well that they are together but one of them is married to another person, and it´s just too expensive to get a divorce. SO in other words we will be focusing a lot on the famliy.
I´ve thought a lot this past couple weeks about my little Primary class that I taught before I went on the mission. As we were helping them get ready for the primary program they sang a special musical number that I love so much. Their theme was on the family and the chorus said, ¨God gave us families to help us become what he wants us to be, this is how he shared his love, for the family is of God¨. This has just been a really neat experience teaching our investigators the importance of the families. President Christofferson said, √Ą family built upon a marriage of a man and a woman supplies the best setting for God´s plan to thrive. And it´s true! we all have the same goal here on the earth and that is to live with our Father in Heaven. What better way to make it back to him by working in our families, SUPPORTING each other. 
Catch you guys later! 
LOVE,
Hermana Van Woerkom

jan. 27, 2016


oopps forgot the pictures Jan. 19th






Jan. 19th

Hey,
So this week has been pretty good, we are hoping for a baptism this next monday, so prayers would be very very much appreciated! Sorry for the late notice, they changed out Pday for today instead of tomorrow because we will be having a world-wide missionary conference with I'm assuming would be the apostles so I'm definitely excited for that! Today we had our last zone activity for the transfer so it was very bitter/sweet....well maybe more bitter because we've all had a blast this transfer. And it started out crazy to say the least! So as my companion throws her hot water into the buckets for her shower, I'm sitting at my desk in my moo moo reading the Liahona when my companion tells me in a panick voice "Compa, get out of here right now don't look behind you". So I'm looking at her like she's crazy and as she repeats it again, I get up and head for the door super freaked out that there was a haitian in the house *okay side note, I'm not racist, it's just that one of the Haitain Elders in my zone told us scary stories the night before about Haitian voodoo and people appearing in houses*. Continuing with the story I asked her what was happening when she told me there was a spider in the house. ACK! They really do have it out for me, first in Puerto Plata now here! I didn't know what to do so I pulled out the phone and start looking through the list of who we could call, but then realizing that we were still in our moo moo's we knew that calling the elders was now out of the option. Being a BOSS, my comp decided she could do it, so I went to get the broom, and I held on to the mop for protection, and we went in. The first swap with the broom didn't kill it, and then it hid behind our gallon tanks. Again, being the boss that she is she moved the tank all by herself and then the beast came back out and started running towards me....okay for the door that I was in front of. Luckliy my companion finished it off before it could get me, but man it was yet another scary encounter with the spider. It's a good thing this one was a baby tarantula instead of the biggies out in the countryside. Yes, I was screaming and screamed even more when my companion chased me around the flipping house with the dustpan that had the dead spider. BUT, this experience just made us think of how much we are going to miss each other. We are SOOOOO BUMMED to say the least that one of us is headed out this transfer. However, we are going to kick up the notch these last few days before it ends and if all goes as planned we will have our baptism this monday. FINGERS CROSSED! We have just had so many growing experiences here together, and I'm so grateful for every single one of them. 
Have a great week,
Hermana Van Woerkom 

Jan. 13, 2016

Hi!
Okay mom and a few others wrote and complained that my letter was tiny last week and someone *ahem* mom threatened to no send my package if she didn't get a super long one today. However, there really wasn't too much crazyness that happened, but we will see what I can come up with. 
Okay well this week we have been really trying to strengthen our area and finding those that are prepared and ready to hear the gospel. Trust me, sounds easier said than done! Sometimes missionaries get caught up with turning in the numbers more than strengthening their wards. It's a balance game that we always have to play. So as we were going out this week we've felt like we really needed to start seeing more less actives and members then we had been seeing before. The bishop's family, the second counselor in the Stake Presidency, and the seminary teacher, just to name a few. And it was so nice to see how happy they were to have the missionaries over for family home evenings! I would have to say the bishop's house was our favorite because after we played a good game of JUMBO with their kids in the streets (it's like a game of tag).  It really made the bishop's wife happy and after she said, "I'm so glad you guys came over, it's been awhile and I almost thought you guys have forgotten about me". I felt bad to say the least! 
As the week ended and Sunday came around my companion and I were sitting in Relief Society when after the bishop's wife ended her lesson and then asked if she could share something with everyone. Then she continued by saying she felt impressed to mention the importance of Visiting Teaching. The visiting teaching program down here is really non-existent, which is super super sad, and in reality sometimes we take on the role as VT's down here. Anyway, she shared her testimony of how important this program was and how important it is to strengthen each other. Then she paused, and shared how she hadn't been visited by anyone for over 2 years and doesn't know who they are or if she has any! That definitely broke my heart! So that's one thing we want to help them strengthen. Sister Thompson gave a talk in General Conference and stated, " The beauty of Visiting Teaching is seeing lives changed, tears wiped away, testimonies growing, and families strengthened". 
I've been thinking a lot about my purpose here as a missionary. As missionaries our responsibility is, "inviting others to come unto Christ to recieve the restored gospel through faith, baptism, recieving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end". The more I've been in this area the more I've felt that my purpose as a missionary, but as a member is to INVITE others (including members and less actives) to COME BACK to Christ. Often times we think that we need to find more people and more people and we FORGET those around us. Sometimes we forget that even though they are members who have callings in the church, they have their own struggles and need just as much strengthening as those who maybe are less active or don't have the gospel in their lives. Just like the bishop's wife in my ward. She's a strong woman in the church, her husbands the bishop, she has a calling, has a wonderful family, and goes to church every Sunday. But, until she shared with us her personal struggles the other sisters and I had no idea of what she was feeling, but now what other sister might be feeling. 
As members of the church of Jesus Christ,our responsibility is (Mosiah 18:8-9), "to be willing to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort...." So there has been so much that I have learned this week to say the least, and it wasn't the easiest way to learn it either! I've learned that as disciples of Jesus Christ we have the responsibility to care for and serve our brothers and sisters in our ward. I can defnitely say I was not the best at visiting teaching when I was at college, but now I can say that it's definitely more than just a number or a check list of things to do for the month. SO PLEASE, do your home/visiting teaching! It's important!  
Love, 
Hermana Van Woerkom 
 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Jan.6th

HEY!
Well How was that new year! Looks like the weather has been insane!! Things are still hot here! The only thing to ring in the new year was an earthquake that we had! We were in a lesson, my comp and I were on the couch and all of a sudden the couch was shaking back and forth! It was only for 8 seconds and it wasn't anything too serious, but #myfirstearthquake holla! Anyway my comp and I rang in the new year like never before! We went to the store and got matching grandma moo moo's because 1 they are just so dang comfy, 2 all the homie grandma's here do it, and 3 You only live the mission life once....as a single sista haha. Then played phase 10 (which is pretty boring with two people, but hey we did what we could), and monopoly until midnight. We have too much fun!
Okay well this week has been significantly better! I totally understand the Christmas song, "It's beginig to look a lot like Christmas" now. Because as it says, "And mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again", is how I'm starting to feel. NO ONE HAS BEEN HOME! However, this week things have been dying down and tomorrow school and work will be starting again, and people will now be home to visit! Yoohoo! So we have people to see again! 
But, this talk came into my mind this past week as we have been finding new people to teach. Elder Worthlin states,
When was young loved playing sports, and havemany fond memories of those days. But not all of themare pleasant. remember one day after my footballteam lost tough game, came home feelingdiscouraged. My mother was there. She listened to mysad story. She taught her children to trust inthemselves and each other, not blame others for their misfortunes, and give their best effort in everythingthey attempted.When we fell down, she expected us to pick ourselvesup and get going again. So the advice my mother gave to me then wasn’t altogether unexpected. It has stayed with me all my life.
“Joseph,” she said, “come what may, and love it.”
And it's so true! We have been starting our search to find new people to teach. Contacting isn't really a missionaries favorite thing to do. Door to door, people saying their Catholic, are too busy, or are just hiding behind their doors, it can get really discouraging, really fast. BUT, understanding who we are as missionaries, who we represent, and changing our attitude we've made the best of the situation. And humor helps out an awful lot. Sometimes you just have to laugh. 
So on to our funny story of the week. As my companion and I were contacting, we were trying to find an address (which is next to impossible to do here). My companion being fearless decided to ask the first person she saw....which happened to be a group of Jehova's Wittnesses walking down the same street. Before I could stop her, she began to flag them down and then ask them for the directions. Well they aren't from here either and then told her they didn't know. UGH sooo embarrassing! She had no idea who they were until I told her. And by that time we were just dying! On a different day, we were walking to an appointment when this guy rolls down his window and whispers, "Listen" and then turns on a little R&B and sings, "I'll take care of you" and then speeds off. haha too funny. 
But, hey have a great week! Stay safe! Don't get into any accidents like little Camden and have to get staples! AND MOST IMPORTANTLY...
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD AND MOM!
love,
Hermana Van Woerkom